|From:||Dirk Elzinga <dirk_elzinga@...>|
|Date:||Friday, February 7, 2003, 17:44|
At 11:03 AM -0500 2/7/03, Karapcik, Mike wrote:
> I have a question for the Gatherers of Extremely Enlightening
>Knowledge (or GEEKs, for short ;-) ).
> On the subject of possessives, for continental North American
>languages, how common is the distinction between alienable and inalienable
>possession? I know Hawai'ian and the other Polynesian languages have
>different possessive markers for alienable and inalienable possessions, and
>this is the structure I'm referring to. (I'm not asking about inherently
>possessed items, such as in many Southwest languages.)
Marianne Mithun, in her book _The Languages of Native North America_ does not
distinguish between what you are calling inalienable possession and inherent
possession. I'm not sure that I see the distinction either. Well, I can see it,
but it doesn't seem to be a real one. Even the languages which have inherent
possession (Navajo and Luiseño come to mind) also have a way to mention
inherently possessed referents without a possessor. In Navajo the prefix a- is
used; it's almost like saying "someone's X" without specifying the someone.
[snip nice description of Tekwari possession]
> So, anyway, I was wondering. Do any Amerind languages have
>alienable/inalienable possession that works anything like this? Or have I
>made something that is more Polynesian than Amerind?
Maybe; perhaps the correct distinction is Pacific Rim vs elsewhere. Look at the
coastal languages of the Americas and see what they do. It wouldn't surprise me
a bit to see a Polynesian style alienable-inalienable distinction. Heck, even
English has a covert (in the Whorfian sense) alienable/inalienable distinction.
Try this out:
1. He hit my arm.
2. He hit me on the arm.
What does 1. mean? What does 2. mean? Do they mean the same thing?
3. He hit my BMW.
4. He hit me on the BMW.
What does 3. mean? What does 4. mean? Do they mean the same thing?
Dirk Elzinga Dirk_Elzinga@byu.edu
"It is important not to let one's aesthetics interfere with the appreciation of
fact." - Stephen Anderson