Publication by GASt member Christina Ringel:

Rangga ngenandayin, lingbe berranben-nging-ngerri – Possession in Miriwoong, a non-Pama-Nyungan language of north-west Australia

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In her PhD thesis Christina Ringel shows that factors such as animacy, semantic criteria and semantic domains, negation and the structural make-up of the sentence influence Miriwoong speaker’s choice among a variety of linguistic expressions of possessive relationships. Following ethnographic information and an analysis of language attitudes, she describes how she used language games as her main method to elicit data. Based on a discussion of the cultural concept of possession, typological predictions and data from neighbouring languages, she demonstrates that the Miriwoong data complies with some predictions concerning possessive constructions but not with others: With Dixon (1980) but contra McGregor (1990), Miriwoong data indicate that inalienability plays a role: The game data yields correlations between alienable possession and the Benefactive enclitic (BEN) and inalienable possession and the Indirect Object enclitic (IO). There is a tendency for the use of IO with respect to the body-parts and part-whole domains, but not the kinship domain. This distribution of marking over domains is in line with claims about Australian languages (Dixon 1980, Heine 1997) but not Stassen’s (2009) typology for alienable vs. inalienable possession. In the latter, both body part and kinship relations are analysed as being defined by +Permanent Contact and -Control, i.e. inalienable possession. Miriwoong speakers are argued to make use of two out of four attributive possessive construction types and one out of four predicative verbless nominal clause types described by McGregor (2004) and Dixon (1980, 2002, 2009): One attributive type (a possessive pronoun indicating the possessor (PR) and a nominal specifying the possessee (PE)) is used extensively, another (juxtaposition of PR and PE NPs to express part-whole relations) is possible. One predicative type (a have-construction formed by a comitative-marked PE) is used widely, whereas the other three are not part of Miriwoong grammar.

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