Independent and dependent possessive person forms
This study explores the coding asymmetry between independent and dependent possessive person forms (as in English mine/my) from a cross-linguistic perspective. On the basis of a typological survey of 70 geographically and genealogically diverse languages, this paper identifies three universal tendencies: the length universal, the constituent order universal and the alienability universal. First, the length universal claims that independent possessive person forms are either longer or as long as the dependent possessive person forms. Second, the constituent order universal claims that the internal constituent order of the person form and the substantivizer correlates with the constituent order of the possessor and the possessum. In addition, in languages where both a composite possessive marker and a composite substantivizer are used, the possessive marker is always closer to the person root. Finally, the alienability universal claims that the possessive person forms in the alienable possessive constructions are more likely to be used as independent possessive person forms than those in the inalienable possessive constructions. These universal tendencies are instances of form-frequency correspondence, which is shown by corpus evidence from three languages.
Keywords: independent person forms, length, constituent order, alienability, universal, frequency
Published online: 10 June 2020
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