Two kinds of external possession in Mississippi Choctaw
Matthew Tyler
November 2019

External possession refers to the phenomenon whereby a DP is marked as an independent argument in its clause but is interpreted as the possessor of another argument. Choctaw makes extensive use of external possession, but, puzzlingly, it comes in two distinct morphological profiles. In previous work these have been assumed to be surface morphological variants, but I show instead that external possession in Choctaw is derived by two distinct mechanisms. One mechanism involves building a DP with an internal possessor and raising the possessor out to a higher left-peripheral position. The alternative mechanism involves building two unconnected DPs, one in an internal argument position and one in a high applicative phrase, and identifying the higher DP with the possessor theta-role of the lower DP in the process of semantic composition, by a mechanism known as "delayed saturation". It is shown that this latter mechanism can generate external possession of objects and unaccusative subjects, depending on whether there is an external argument, and is subject to a host of interpretative restrictions that the movement-based mechanism is not. Thus I show not only that external possession can be derived by two different mechanisms, but also that those mechanisms may co-exist in the same language.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004625
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: accepted (Syntax)
keywords: possession, external possession, possessor raising, case, applicatives, choctaw, syntax, syntax
previous versions: v1 [June 2019]
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