LINGUIST List 10.615

Wed Apr 28 1999

Disc: Possession in Hebrew

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. cldue, Re: 10.602, Disc: Possession in Hebrew
  2. Mohamed Diriye Abdullahi, Re: 10.602, Disc: Possession in Hebrew
  3. BIRKS, Disc: Possession in Hebrew
  4. Viatscheslav Iatsko, Disc: Possession in Hebrew

Message 1: Re: 10.602, Disc: Possession in Hebrew

Date: Tue, 27 Apr 15:28:23 1999
From: cldue <>
Subject: Re: 10.602, Disc: Possession in Hebrew

 Re: LINGUIST 10.602, Disc: Possession in Hebrew

Robert R. Ratcliffe concluded and maximally generalized his statement 
re possession-verb markedness by asking

>In the meantime does anyone know of a non-IE language which 'has' (=in
>which there exists) a verb with more or less the range of functions
>and senses as Eng. "have"?

Basque at any rate does have such a verb, #ukan#, with two series of
finite ("synthetic") forms, based on a shorter and a longer stem
variant respectively (the historical details of the alternation are
unknown to me). Both function morphosyntactically like "transitive"
verbs, with an ergative possessor. The short forms (like #du# "3sg has
3sg") both express the whole range of "possession" in much the same
way as do E #have# or Sp #tener# and serve as transitive auxiliaries
(like have/haber). The longer forms (like #dauka# "3sg has/holds
3sg") imply a higher degree of (physical) control of the possessed
object by the possessor. This semantics may be the most original one
(as it is with #have#, ultimately a stative derived verb cognate with
Latin #capere# historically) but the fact remains that (short-form)
#ukan# works much like #have#, and moreover that the language, to the
extent that I know it, does NOT make use of a dative or postpositional
phrase + (the locative/existen! tial of the two) #be#(s) to encode
possession alongside the transitive verb.

Christian L. Duetschmann
Bochum, Germany 

Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Re: 10.602, Disc: Possession in Hebrew

Date: Tue, 27 Apr 1999 16:40:04 -0400
From: Mohamed Diriye Abdullahi <diriyeamMAGELLAN.UMontreal.CA>
Subject: Re: 10.602, Disc: Possession in Hebrew

This is the situation in Somali for 'to have'. First the English ' to have'
covers a larger range of meanings than does the Somali equivalent.
For example, if you walk into a hotel, and say 'do you have a room?', the
Somali equivalent is 'do you keep a room?'

Ma haysaa qol? (Neg. V. N.)

If you use 'have' which is 'lahaw', then you would be saying the equivalent
of 'do you own a room?' Now that is a question which a hotel clerk would
find bewildering!

Now for the verb 'to have' itself. It seems to have developed out of a
'lee' morpheme and the verb ahaw 'to be'. Thus:

Waa an lee-y-ahay. I have. (focus Pro. lee-V) y=epenthetic
waa ad lee-d-ahay. You have.	d < t of the 2p.
Waa u lee-y-ahay. He has.		y=epenthetic
waa ay lee-d-ahay. She has.	d < t of the 3p. feminine
Waa annu lee-n-ahay. We have	n= plural 1st. p.
Waa ay lee-y-ihii-n. They have.	y=epenthetic, n=plural marker

In addition, the possession morpheme lee occurs under the variants le/leh
as in:
geel leh (owner of camels)
geelle (when contracted)

Somali has therefore now the equivalent of the English 'to have' but it
does not cover the same territory.

The lee counterpart exists also in Semitic languages as Arabic li akhun, li
la:hi, or in Hebrew as been stated here. The Arabic indi akhun (=ain) is
a peculiar development. I have no idea of its diachronic development.

Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: Disc: Possession in Hebrew

Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 00:02:09 +0200
From: BIRKS <>
Subject: Disc: Possession in Hebrew

Regarding Simona Herdan's query about expression of possession in

Professor Robert R. Ratcliffe wrote:

>I have a strong suspicion that the existence of a verb with the range
>of meanings of English "have" is a typologically rare, linguistically
>marked feature, characteristic of (and possibly unique to?)
>Indo-European languages (though not found even in all of these, of

There have been a number of enquiries on this list concerning the
typological status of "have", as a transitive expression of possession, and
in its relation to BE, and existential/locative structures.

Attempts to demonstrate that 'have' is not exclusively indoeuropean (eg
Creissels in 'Faits de Langues', 1996) generally show how rare it actually
is on a world scale.

Mentions have been made of Mandarin Chinese, a native Louisiana language
(Benveniste), Basque (Locker), and a couple of languages from West Africa,
although I'm afraid I don't have the references to hand at the moment.

The exceptional nature of 'have' was pointed out by Vendry\203s and Meillet in
the 1920's, though the first systematic attempt to establish a list of
'have' languages would appear to be Isacenko 'On Have and Be languages' in
1974 (Slavic Forum, Essays in linguistics and literature, ed. Michael S
Flier, The Hague Mouton). I haven't read this article, unfortunately- but
would very much like to do so... it would appear to be unavailable in
France. Any help in this field would be most gratefully received.

Ivan Birks

Universit\200 Paris III
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 4: Disc: Possession in Hebrew

Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 10:56:19 +0700
From: Viatscheslav Iatsko <>
Subject: Disc: Possession in Hebrew

According to H.Seiler (see his Possession: as an operational dimension of
language Tubingen: G. Narr. Language universals series; 1983. v. 2)
languages are divided in Habeo-languages and Esso-languages. Habeo-languages
have special possessive verbs taking a direct object, Esso-languages haven't
such verbs, the idea of possession in them is expressed by the constructions
with the verb "be". Germanic and Romance languages are typical
Habeo-languages, Turkic languages are Esso-languages. Russian has special
possessive verbs, but the idea of possession in Russian is often expressed
by existential constructions. "I have a brother" can be translated into
Russian by the possessive construction "Ia imeiu brata" and existentilal "U
menia est' brat". Thus Russian occupies an intermediate position between
Habeo-languages and Esso-languages. This point of view was substantiated in
my works (see, e.g. "Textual Deep Structure" published in "Text, Speech,
Dialogue", Brno, 1998, "Deep Structure of Proposition and Deep Structure of
Discourse" in "Linguistics in Potsdam" 1998, No 4)

Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue