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Re: Possession and genitivity

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Friday, April 29, 2005, 21:14
On Friday, April 29, 2005, at 05:19 , Herman Miller wrote:

> Ray Brown wrote:
>> There is a hint that the relationship is not always 'possession' and a >> reference to the variation of use actually found in natlangs. A weakness >> in both definitions IMO is that Trask (explicitly) and Crystal >> (implicitly) >> define the case as relation one NP to another. There is no hint in >> either >> definition that it may relate a NP to a VP. > > I'm still trying to sort out how possession works in Minza, but the > locative case is used in some instances. The genitive case tends to be > used for more abstract relationships (shape classifiers, for instance: > "a sheet of paper" is "lhazhi rjaxat" with "paper" in the genitive case).
This is not what I consider to be 'possession'. It seems to me to be an extension of the _partitive_ use of the genitive, cf. granum salis "grain of salt", uini gutta "drop of wine", panis pondo quattuor "4 pounds of bread" ([_pondo_ is an indeclinable noun in this usage. The Roman pound was about 12 ounces or 340 grams) These genitives define what the grain, drop etc refers to.
>> I still maintain that L.R. Palmer's definition of _genitive_ is better >> than either Trask's or Crystal's, namely: >> "a noun in the genitive defines and delimits the range of reference of >> another noun or verb." >> >> Tho I would substitute NP for 'noun' and VP for 'verb'. > > What are some typical uses of genitives with verbs? (Jarda uses the > genitive case for the object of a verb in the antipassive voice, but I > don't know how realistic that might be....)
In Latin the genitive is used for the object of certain verbs (probably development of the partitive use): 1. verbs of 'filling' and 'lacking' - complere (to fill), abundare (to ), egere (to lack), indigere (), carere (); 2. verbs of remembering, and forgetting - mimenisse (tui memini "I remember you"), oblivisci (to forget); the verb 'misereri' (to pity) also governs the genitive. With verbs of accusing, condemning & acquitting, the person who is accused &c is in the accusative (if the verb is active) case, but what they are accused of, condemned for or acquitted of is expressed by the genitive, e. g. furti ac repetundarum condemnatus etst = he was condemned for theft and extortion. parricidi eum incusat - he accused him of parricide. An interesting group of _impersonal verbs_ denoting various feelings has the person experiencing the feeling in the accusative case (direct object) and the cause of the feeling in the genitive case, e.g. ignauum paenitebit aliquando ignauiae slothful.ACC repent.FUT.INDIC one day sloth.GEN The slothful person will one day repent of his sloth taedet me uitae I am weary of life tui me miseret I pity you me mei piget I am annoyed with myself. etc Also a 'genitive of value' is found with verbs of 'valuing' and 'buying', e.g. te in dies _pluris_ facio = I value you _more highly_ every day. It has been argued that these developed from locatives in -i, but this is not accepted by everyone, especially as a similar use of the genitive was also found in Greek. It is likely that they developed from what Palmer calls 'genitive of rubric', e.g. lucri facere = "to put [something] down as profit". In early Latin we find partitive genitive more widely used as objects (cf Cato: _aquae...addito "add...some water") - but such constructions were suppressed by classical purists who always have the accusative with verbs of eating and drinking. But almost certainly this use continued in the spoken language since it reappears in late Latin as _de + abl._ by which time _de + abl._ had almost entirely replace the genitive case in the spoken language (cf. French _de l'eau). In ancient Greek, partitive genitive objects were not suppressed and a wide range of verbs are found taking 'genitive objects'. It is likely that this is inherited from PIE.
> How do prepositions fit into this; in languages that have prepositions > which govern the genitive case, are these prepositions generally derived > from nouns?
The Homeric writings probably point up the earlier stage of PIE with no adpositions. The grammarians refer to those examples in Homer where the "preposition" does not come next to its NP as _tmesis_ 'cutting' - but this is mistaken. What we have in Homer is the use of certain adverbials to give more precise meanings to the oblique cases. They tend to be closely with the NP, either before or, less commonly, after but are by no means are they always adjacent to them. In later Greek they are regularly attached to their NPs, usually preposited by may be adposited, with change of accent in the case of disyllabic adpositions. By the hellenistic period, they are always prepositions. Prepositions governing the genitive in Greek arise from two sources: 1. the older layer of 'adverbials' loosely attached to cases; these were originally associated with the _ablative_ which became fused with the genitive in Greek. These are used only as adpositions in post-Homeric Greek or as prefixes in compound verbs. 2. Adverbs, which cannot be used as verbal prefixes, but could be used as prepositions with the genitive, cf. English 'outside of the house'. Lstin had no prepositions governing the genitive.
>> But this is getting away from the thread a bit. I still maintain that in >> "my identity", the concept 'indentity' is more clearly something I 'own' >> , >> than is 'arrival' in "my arrival". I have no difficulty is regarding 'my >> identitiy' as a type of possession. But when it comes to 'my arrival' .. >> .. > > I guess it depends on how you look at ownership, but in general I'd > think you'd have a degree of ownership in the results of your actions. > You can have cases in English where both a possessive and a genitive is > used, like "my interpretation of this sentence".
You can :) A literal translation of that into Latin would have "my' as a possessive adjective & sentence as a genitive. In theory it would be ambiguous - mea sententiae interpretatio could mean "the sentence's interpretation of me" - but common sense would disambiguate in this case. Yes, as I have said, there is an overlap between possession & genitivity, but IMO the two concepts are not identical, and the edges of that overlap is fuzzy. But: illi ... duae fuere filiae him.DAT ... two.FEM.NOM. be.PERF.3rdPL daughter.PL.NOM The two daughters were his/ he had two daughters - possessive, not genitive. aetas semper aliquid noui adfert. age.NOM always something.ACC new.NEUT.GEN. bring.PRES.3rdS. Literally: Age always brings something of a new thing. - genitive, not possession. Age always brings something new. Ray =============================================== =============================================== Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the gods as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]


Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>
Herman Miller <hmiller@...>