Edited by Jóhanna Barðdal, Na'ama Pat-El and Stephen Mark Carey
[Studies in Language Companion Series 200] 2018
► pp. 181–212
Possession is an abstract domain of human conceptualization whose expression may be based on different cognitive structures. Heine (1997) identifies a small set of basic conceptual patterns that express predicative possession across the languages of the world. Vedic has three of these patterns exemplified by (i) a genitive construction (with a genitive possessor), (ii) a dative construction (with a dative possessor, a nominative possessee, and a form of ‘be’), and (iii) a locative construction (with a locative possessor and a form of ‘be’). In later stages of the language, the three constructions reduce to one and the structure with the genitive becomes the conventional expression for possession. Despite the importance of the Vedic data for shedding light on the Indo-European linguistic expression of possession, the situation in Vedic has not received proper attention. In this article, we describe and analyze the three early Vedic constructions, their syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic properties, showing that the locative construction is the most marginal of the three, the genitive construction conveys a possessee-oriented relation and is the canonical expression for possession, while the dative construction, expressing a possessor-oriented relation, is a multifunctional construction of which possession is only one of its possible meanings. We further show that claims in the literature that the dative experiencer construction developed from the dative possessive construction are not confirmed by the situation in Vedic.
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