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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter (A) June 15, 2016

From double to dependent marking? An investigation of possessive constructions in Caucasian Urum

  • Johanna Neugebauer EMAIL logo


Speakers of the Turkic variety Caucasian Urum use different strategies for morphologically marking attributive possessive relations. This article presents the results of an experimental study conducted in Tbilisi with the aim of revealing if speakers systematically differentiate in their use of possession markers, and if so, if this is influenced by internal factors such as alienability of the word and complexity of the phrase. Furthermore, the speakers’ ages were taken into account. Results showed that in possessive constructions, it is especially the head-marking possessive suffix that is occasionally omitted. Post-hoc analysis showed the unexpected influence of alienability on single NP’s possessive marking, even in non-possessive constructions. The results lead to the assumption that the process of constructing possessive phrases is highly influenced by the contact language, Russian.


I very much would like to thank Violeta Moisidi for her generous help with translation, communication with the participants, and a very hospitable introduction to the Urum people in Tbilisi. My special gratitude goes to Stavros Skopeteas, without whom this work would not have been possible, and Stefanie Böhm and Claudia Wegener for their help and encouragement. I am grateful to the Linguistic’s Department of Bielefeld University for funding the study. Special thanks go to the ‘UET’.


1, 2, 3

1st, 2nd, 3rd person
















nominal phrase


old = older speakers












Russian origin




young=younger speakers


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List of stimuli

ItemElementComplexityAlienabilityQuestion (by informant)English translationNo.
11simalnä dır eshil?‘What is green?’101
12comalnä dır eshil?‘What is green?’102
13siminnä dır eshil?‘What is green?’103
14cominnä dır eshil?‘What is green?’104
21simalnä dır gyög?‘What is blue?’201
22comalnä dır gyög?‘What is blue?’202
23siminnä dır gyög?‘What is blue?’203
24cominnä dır gyög?‘What is blue?’204
31simalnä boyadier ärgishi bögün?‘What paints the man today?’301
32comalnä boyadier ärgishi bögün?‘What paints the man today?’302
33simalnä boyadır ärgishi sabax?‘What paints the man tomorrow?’303
34cominnä boyadır ärgishi sabax?‘What paints the man tomorrow?’304
41siminnä dır sari?‘What is yellow?’401
42cominnä dır sari?‘What is yellow?’402
43simalnä dır sari?‘What is yellow?’403
44comalnä dır sari?‘What is yellow?’404
51simalnä dır böüq?‘What is big?’501
52comalnä dır böüq?‘What is big?’502
53siminnä dır böüq?‘What is big?’503
54cominnä dır böüq?‘What is big?’504
61simalnä dIr ɣIrIx?‘What is broken?’601
62cominkimIn velasipedi ɣIrIxtIr?‘Whose bike is broken?’602
63siminnä dIr ɣIrIx?‘What is broken?’603
64cominkimIn ɣIch-i ɣIrIx?‘Whose leg is broken?’604
71siminnä dır ğırmızi?‘What is red?’701
72comalnä dır ğırmızi?‘What is red?’702
73simalnä dır ğırmızi?‘What is red?’703
74cominnä dır ğırmızi?‘What is red?’704
81simalnä dır eshil?‘What is green?’801
82comalnä dır eshil?‘What is green?’802
83siminnä dır eshil?‘What is green?’803
84cominnä dır eshil?‘What is green?’804
91siminnä dIr ɣIrIx?‘What is broken?’901
92comalnä dIr ɣIrIx?‘What is broken?’902
93simalnä dIr ɣIrIx?‘What is broken?’903
94cominnä dIr ɣIrIx?‘What is broken?’904
101simalnä dır chüchük?‘What is small?’1001
102comalnä dır chüchük?‘What is small?’1002
103siminnä dır chüchük?‘What is small?’1003
104cominnä dır chüchük?‘What is small?’1004
111simalnä boyadier ärgishi bögün?‘What paints the man today?’1101
112comalnä boyadier ärgishi bögün?‘What paints the man today?’1102
113simalnä boyadır ärgishi sabax?‘What paints the man tomorrow?’1103
114comalnä boyadır ärgishi sabax?‘What paints the man tomorrow?’1104
121simalnä dır sari?‘What is yellow?’1201
122cominnä dır sari?‘What is yellow?’1202
123siminnä dır sari?‘What is yellow?’1203
124cominnä dır sari?‘What is yellow?’1204
131simalnä dır ğırmızi?‘What is red?’1301
132comalnä dır ğırmızi?‘What is red?’1302
133siminnä dır ğırmızi?‘What is red?’1303
134cominnä dır ğırmızi?‘What is red?’1304
141siminnä dır chüchük?‘What is small?’1401
142comalnä dır chüchük?‘What is small?’1402
143siminnä dır chüchük?‘What is small?’1403
144cominnä dır chüchük?‘What is small?’1404
151siminnä dır gyög?‘What is blue?’1501
152comalnä dır gyög?‘What is blue?’1502
153simalnä dır gyög?‘What is blue?’1503
154cominnä dır gyög?‘What is blue?’1504
161simalnä dır böüq?‘What is big?’1601
162comalnä dır böüq?‘What is big?’1602
163siminnä dır böüq?‘What is big?’1603
164cominnä dır böüq?‘What is big?’1604

Pictures and Questions

Published Online: 2016-6-15
Published in Print: 2016-7-1

©2016 by De Gruyter Mouton

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