Diagnosing Northern Khanty unpossessives, or how to tell a synchronically independent marker from its diachronic source
Stepan Mikhailov
May 2024

Uralic possessive agreement suffixes often develop determiner-like functions. Several authors tried to suggest monosemic analyses of such functions as derived from the basic possessive meaning. Recently, other authors have argued that the functions they investigate must be treated as synchronically independent markers since they do not behave morphosyntactically as their respective proper possessives do. Based on my predecessors’ results, I develop several unpossessive diagnostics that aim to test whether a non-possessive function observes the same behavior as the proper possessive function of the same exponent with respect to several morphophonological, morphosyntactic, semantic, and pragmatic parameters. I apply these diagnostics to the Northern Khanty second-person singular possessive -en/-an in its three non-possessive functions and argue that these functions must be treated as three unpossessive markers — the associative possessive, the salient article, and the proprial article — that are homonymous with, but synchronically independent from the proper possessive. I develop an analysis of these markers couched in Distributed Morphology, which allows to not only cover the differences between them but also to account for their similarities. I also discuss some potential weaknesses of the analysis and justify them by appeal to how grammaticalization processes normally work.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/008147
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: (submitted)
keywords: possessives, definiteness, distributed morphology, grammaticalization, northern khanty, uralic languages, semantics, morphology, syntax
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