The development of possessive HAVE GOT
The path (not) taken
This paper provides an in-depth discussion and evaluation of different accounts of the historical development of possessive HAVE GOT. Accounts which postulate the insertion of got as a pattern preserver after phonologically reduced instances of possessive HAVE (Jespersen 1931; Crowell 1959; Krug 2000) are problematic because there is no historical evidence for phonologically reduced possessive HAVE. Another line of research argues that possessive HAVE GOT started out as an inference ‘continuation of possession’ in contexts of present perfect HAVE got(ten) ‘have received/have acquired’ (Johnson 1773; Visser 1973; Gronemeyer 1999).
A principled account of this development is provided in terms of the conventionalisation of conversational implicatures. The inference ‘continuation of possession’ is a conversational implicature which meets Levinson’s criteria of cancellability, nondetachability, reinforceability and calculability. Conventionalisation of this conversational implicature is evidenced by uses of HAVE GOT in contexts of inalienable possession where the meaning ‘have received/have acquired’ is no longer possible.
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