LINGUIST List 14.173

Fri Jan 17 2003

Review: Typology: Baron et al. (2001)

Editor for this issue: Naomi Ogasawara <>

What follows is a review or discussion note contributed to our Book Discussion Forum. We expect discussions to be informal and interactive; and the author of the book discussed is cordially invited to join in. If you are interested in leading a book discussion, look for books announced on LINGUIST as "available for review." Then contact Simin Karimi at


  1. Judy Dick, Baron et al. (2001), Dimensions of Possession

Message 1: Baron et al. (2001), Dimensions of Possession

Date: Fri, 17 Jan 2003 14:07:57 +0000
From: Judy Dick <>
Subject: Baron et al. (2001), Dimensions of Possession

Irene BARON, Michael HERSLUND and Finn SORENSEN (Copenhagen Business
School) (eds.) (2001), Dimensions of Possession Amsterdam: Benjamin's
Typological Studies in Language ISSN 0167-7373; 47 vi, 337 pp. ISBN 90
272 2951 Hardcover US & Canada: 1 58811 062 1 / USD 86.00 Rest of
world: 90 272 2951 1 / EUR 95.00

Book Announcement on Linguist:

Judith P. Dick , Software Mechanics Nepean ON, Canada


The articles in this collection were selected from those presented at
an international workshop held in Copenhagen in May 1998, according to
the publisher's notice. However, I was able to find nothing in the
volume to confirm that description.

The purpose of the collection seems to have been to view linguistic
typology through the lens of possessive expressions. The essays cover
the recognized problems of interpreting possession in across many
languages. Both synchronic and diachronic approaches are represented.
The most common theme is the problem of determining which expressions
have been grammaticalized. The essays will interest those who are
interested in Functional, and Lexical-Functional grammar. Those
interested in case grammar will also find them relevant.


Introduction; Dimensions of possession, by Michael Herslund and Irene Baron. 

The editors set the tone with a summary of thought on ''possession''
including multilingual references, glimpses into the papers that
follow, and a lengthy list of references. Their own approach is
onomasiological. ''Possession'' expresses the semantics of
''Possessor'' linked with ''Possessee''. The relation parallels
''Location-Argument'', and ''Experiencer-Stimulus'' pairs, more
readily than the ''Agent-Patient'' schema. ''Location'' is the
primary source of their concept of ''possession'', as it is primitive
and concrete. The division represented by ''have'' and ''belong'' is
fundamental. Both verbs express ''ownership'', a subcategory of

1. The operational basis of possession; A dimensional approach
revisited, by Hansjakob Seilor.

Seilor analyses use patterns on Universal, General Comparative Grammar
(GCG) and Local levels, then presents a menu of GCG morpho-syntactic
techniques and categories denoting possession. He says that
''possession'' expresses the ego's interaction with the world in
gaining property as ''acquiring'', ''owning'', and ''belonging''. The
menu is extensible. Items range from ''inherent'' to ''established''
and include ''connective'', ''classifier'', ''case'' ''location'' and
''verb'' categories. Expressions represent degrees of alienability in
the range. Values are not specified. Individual languages select from
it locally. Examples from Cahuilla demonstrate flexibility in its
application at the Local level.

Examples of contradictory case marking examples are in the middle of
the range. Genitives denote ''appurtenance'' not ''possession'' and
imply more intimate associations than the dative. The dative
expresses ''inherence''. Both may represent, according to context,
''more inalienable'', ''more alienable'' or ''neutral alienability''.
Lack of specificity and inversion mark the middle area, with verbs
between Possessor and Possessum.

Acquired property units relate back to the Possessor. The dynamic is
reversed in some languages. A diachronic description of possessive
verbs demonstrates that transitives express explicitness in
acquisition. Less focused concepts are stative or reflexive

2. The concept of possession in Danish grammar, by Ole Togeby.

Danish possessives are not grammaticalized, Togeby says. The
possessor is a ''reference point'', used to establish mental contact
with the ''target'', making it accessible to the mind. This is part
of a larger context of ''reference point'', following Langacker. His
forms of possession figure in the discussion, as does the author's
case system (Togeby, 1996).

Togeby isolates six possessive forms: genitive definite (English
genitive), prepositional phrase, indirect object, ethical dative +
preposition + definite form (about body parts and clothing), and verb.
He analyzes examples of each, taken from ''The Tinder box''
(H.C. Andersen). A lengthy excerpt is included in Danish and English.
Each syntactic form has multiple interpretations. Meronymy, location,
subjecthood, control, effect, and experience are among them, as well
as possession. Possession is not primary.

Predicative possessives owe much to lexical interpretation, since
''possession'' is part of the semantics of verbs such as ''have'',
''get'', ''give'', and ''take''. He explains the Danish indirect
object as a reduced subject-verb relation (Diderichsen, 1946).
''Have'' syntactically designates the indirect object. The ''have''
role implies ''possession'', although its scope is broader.

3. Possession spaces in Danish, by Finn Sorensen.

Editor Sorensen, outlines a relational, localist theory of possession.
He seeks to unify ''possession'' and ''location'' by using ''space'',
a construct denoting an ''empty and extended abstract object'' (p. 58)
that exists as part of a location structure in which some object is
claimed to be in the ''space''.

He defines the pattern form as <L, o, s(o')> (p. 58) in which ''L'' is
a location relation, ''o'' and ''o''' are objects and ''s'', is a
space function. The function, ''s'', is constrained by a locative,
binary relation. Each space has an object. The space function
assigns the role of ''possessor'', denoted by the operator ''pos'', to
its' object. ''Possession'' is the relation between the space and its'
possessor object. Other elements in the space contribute to the
interpretation of the space. Some relation, other than ''pos'',
within a space locates a possessee object. Prepositions indicate
spaces within the range of their objects.

To demonstrate, he examines ''give'', ''have'', and ''genitive''
constructs. All are semantically flexible, but the genitive is the
least constrained. His strongest examples are genitive constructions
and whole-part relations. In all spaces, one can distinguish between
those internal to the object used to create the spaces, and those
external to those objects. He hopes shortly to model in/alienability
relations. Spaces reconcile ''possession'' and ''location'', but are
said to be capable of distinguishing between them when selections are
made by some constructs.

4. The verb HAVE in Nyulnyulan languages, by William McGregor.

Most ''have'' verbs in the Nyulnyulan languages of Australia are
classed formally as intransitives. McGregor conjectures they are ''to
some extent transitive'' and express predicative possession.

In each Nyulnyulan language ''have'' bears its own meaning but may
also express a contextual meaning. The inherent meaning is not
defined, but three features in each ''have'' construction are. They
are: a semantic association between subject and object, the expression
of an ongoing happening or situation, and subject-object asymmetry.

Nyulnyulan ''haves'' are not copular as syntactic and semantic
evidence shows. Although they have marginal use as a type of
auxiliary, they are not like ''have'' in English and ''avoir'' in
French. Nyulnyulan ''have'' is said to be more dynamic than ''have''
and ''avoir'', but less transitive at the lexical level. The
Nyulnyulan ''haves'' are used mainly in non-material senses, so
''hold'', ''take'', and ''grasp'' senses are imposed by the context.

The verbs are fully transitive in terms of the clause types they
''slot into''. The ''have'' clause expresses ''possession'' as its
primary predicate, but is not a predicate possessive construction. The
associative link between subject and object is specified by the
lexical verb of having, and their interpretation is said to depend
upon the semantics of that link.

5. Semantics of the verb HAVE, by Irene Baron and Michael Herslund.

Editors Baron and Herslund discuss hierarchies of sentence
constituents consistent at each of three levels: local, inclusional
and grammatical. They use ''have'' possessives that highlight
asymmetry to show an inclusional hierarchy is superimposed upon local
relations. The examples are Danish but the patterns are universal,
they say.

''Have'' establishes a state relation. The semantic link between
subject and object specifies each relationship. The denotation of the
subject includes the denotation of the object. There are three
inclusionary roles described for the object: ''part of a whole'' for
relational nouns, ''part of a subject's possessions'', for animate,
non-relational nouns, and ''semantic feature of the subject noun''.
''Have'' allows adverbial expansion. A locative prepositional phrase
may join the complement. The locative object is located with respect
to the subject. The authors designate a ''subplace'' for it before the
object. It is related remotely to the subject, and proximately to the
object by its preposition.

Sentence constituents, reflecting denotative variations, are organized
hierarchically. The hierarchy is imposed semantically, although its
elements are syntactic. The subject always includes the object or the
subplace. The object never includes either of the other
constituents. The authors demonstrate both two and three constituent
inclusion. They test by transposing ''have'' constructions as
genitive noun phrases. The nominal construction presupposes the
inclusion of object denotation in subject denotation. The test fails
where a subplace is included in the relation since the object
inclusion relation is blocked by the adverbial locative attaching to
the subject.

6. Possessum-oriented and possessor-oriented constructions in
Russian, by Per Durst-Andersen.

In Russian, two case-marked possessive constructions are well
established, the possessum- oriented with the dative, and the
possessor- oriented with the instrumental. The genitive does not
express possession. A ''synthetic passive'' construction is offered
as evidence that the analysis is correct.

The Russian mood system determines the case system. The genitive is
an oblique, outer case. Although it denotes separation or remoteness,
it may be interpreted as a possessive. However, oblique inner cases,
dative and instrumental, express possession.

Russian verbs of all classes contain state descriptions and so can
express possession. Activity verbs are state verbs with a described
activity like ''zavedovat'' (''manage''), ''rasporjazat'sja''
(''control''), and others. The activity description logically entails
a state description-location, experience, possession, or others.
''The role of the state description can be extracted from the role
that the very state plays in a real activity'' (p. 110). Activity
verbs are possessor-oriented and denote an inherent property described
in the entailment structure.

The possessum-oriented construction does not appear with activity
verbs. Russian grammar prohibits passives with intransitive
verbs. Nevertheless, a ''synthetic passive'', possessum-oriented
construction occurs in common parlance though not in grammar texts.
In it, the surface subject is the possessum the verb is a
possession-based activity verb, and the possessor is an oblique
instrumental object. Durst-Andersen offers the construction as
evidence that the analysis is correct, and that the possessives are

7. Datives and comitatives as neighbouring spouses; The case of
indirect objects and comitatives in Danish, by Lars Heltoft.

The author regards the analysis of language- specific content form as
essential to typological analysis. He reduces the number of semantic
roles using ''receptive'' and ''comitative'' frames and claims to
produce core possessive meaning across cases. ''Possession'' is
defined as ''Zugehorigkeit''.

Heltoft uses ''content subject'' to explicate the frames. It is a
constituent that complies with the semantic subject restrictions of a
given verb. In Danish, a subject is not semantically coded but
restricted by associated lexical items or syntactic constructions.
Objects may not express agentivity. Frames are described as
''abstract meronymy'' or ''semantic fields''. Each brings its' own
subject content rules. Rather than semantic roles, frames constitute
''differently organized relations''. In Danish, they are non-local.
The content form has two parameters, ''telicity'' and ''presupposition
vs. assertion''.

The ''receptive'' is an indirect object (IO) frame. IOs pattern with
telic verbs in the first object position. The frame is a content
subject, restricted as is the expression subject of ''fa'' (''get'').
With an IO, the direct object is interpreted as the framed entity. The
''comitative'' is a co-subject (CS) frame. CS is a phrase with
preposition ''med'' (''with'') a static argument, framed by what is
denoted by the expression subject of ''have'' (''have''). The CS
frame presupposes that the subject and CS share the same frame, and
the same activity. Variant CS semantic roles are discarded as
structurally superfluous. The frame covers any of the static co-part
relationships presupposed or entailed, for example, sociatives, or

8. Towards a typology of French NP ''de'' NP structures or how much
possession is there in complex noun phrases with ''de'' in French?, by
Inge Bartning.

The author presents a two-part model of interpretation of ''de'' in
order to Identify possessives. Individual ''NP de NP'' structures are
treated separately from those in discourse. The division is justified
by syntactic tests employing the pronominalization of human N2s in
''de lui'' and the im/possible use of ''etre de N2'' (Milner, 1982)
extended to include attributive cases (Bartning, 1990). Bartning
contends that contextual uses are grammaticalized. Examples show
prototypical uses accepting associative anaphora, but not discursive
ones. The possessive determiner works at the discourse level in
pragmatic cases, but not in contextual cases. At the microlevel, it
works with all possessives.

Microlevel prototypes constitute the ''kernel meaning group''. They
are distinguished by the properties of N1, and occasionally N2.
Bartning classes the prototypes as ''possessive'' or ''origin'' based
on their syntactic behavior and the original meaning of ''de''.
''Possessive'' relations are paraphrased as either ''N1 avoir N2'' or
''N2 appartenir a N1'' expressions, and ''origin'' relations as ''etre
a'' expressions.

Discourse interpretations include extra-linguistic knowledge and
meaning from Previous discourse and textual intervals. The relations
are paraphrased as ''N1 is associated with N2'' at the textual level.
The adnominal NP 2 and possessive determiner do not express
possession. ''Avoir'' and ''appartenir a'' paraphrases are not

9. Spanish N ''de'' N structures from a cognitive perspective, by
Henrik Hoeg Muller.

The author regards ''de'' as a cognitive primitive, whose function is
to combine entities in a given way. A cognitive primitive functions
on a pre-possessional level. The interpretation of the ''N de N''
structure depends upon the head noun's restrictions. Restrictions may
come also from contextual properties, or world-knowledge. A more
general semantic notion encompassing locative and possessive meanings
is thought possible.

''De'' establishes a semantically indeterminate relation between
linguistic representations of two entities. There is no systematic
correlation between the semantic and syntactic levels. Muller says
that a noun is neither relational nor non- relational. What is
significant is that the other noun or the context can activate
relations in some head nouns because some nouns are more likely to be
parts than wholes, given our mental representations.

10. The grammatical category ''Possession'' and the part/whole
relation in French, by Martin Riegel.

The author developed a prototype for French possessives, using
''participation'' for generic ''possession''. French is thought to
have a limited concept of possession with a central part/whole
relation. Riegel joined ''participation'' and syntactic criteria with
a definition adaptable to ''mereological calculation''. The French
examples are not translated.

To a participation category he added three syntactic patterns,
''ownership'', ''parental kinship'' and ''partitivity'' (from Fonagy,
1975), integrated with the central concept to varying degrees. They
are subsumed relations. He added a ''collection'' entity and a
''set'' relation with its elements, and formalized the whole. The
syntactic structures accommodate other relations, among them
''state-entity''. Riegel produced possessive syntactic variations to
demonstrate. The prototype is said to be applicable to additional,
peripheral possessives. He discussed legal ownership briefly.

11. Kinship in grammar, by Osten Dahl and Maria Koptjevskaja-Tamm. 

The authors contribute to the understanding of grammaticalization by
providing a description of kinship terms, their unusual semantic and
pragmatic features. They are sympathetic to both synchronic and
diachronic linguistic approaches. They choose ''degree of closeness
to parental prototypes'', ''ascendance'', and ''lineal descent'' as
the most meaningful kinship concepts for linguistic analysis. Kinship
nouns are animate, similar to proper names and usually definite. They
are typically syntactic subjects, egocentric, and pragmatically
anchored. Possessive nouns and verbs co-exist in a number of
languages. Then the verbs Are restricted in tense, mood and aspect.
Lexical integration, accounts for many changes in terminology and
interacts with grammaticalization.

The authors compare in/alienability relations with kinship terms to
those with body parts drawing examples from many languages.
Significant features discussed include obligatory possessor marking
and discourse status

12. (In)alienability and (in)determination in Portuguese, by
Anne-Marie Spanoghe.

Spanoghe tried to determine empirically if there is an in/alienable
possession parameter in Brazilian Portuguese. She strictly controlled
the interaction between the test language and the experimental model,
to avoid circularity. Results were indeterminate.

In Portuguese, the possessor is not explicitly expressed.
Inalienability is interpreted using pragmatic and discourse
information. Spanoghe's database consisted of 2700 items from
contemporary writings. She posed 3 questions about the interface
between the body-part continuum and the determiner. 1. What is the
impact of the use of a non- prototypical (Seiler, 1983) body part on
the type of determiner used? 2. Is the definiteness of the body-part
noun phrase the result of the possessor's presence? 3. Does a
non-prototypical possessor have an influence on the appearance of an
indefinite article? Results of 1. showed that the majority of cases
with non-prototypical body-part phrases had definite articles. In the
answers to 2. The possessor fades, as the statements move toward
alienability. The results of 3. Were indeterminate. She describes
the use of the possessive determiner in discourse, its forms and the
morphological oppositions found, expressing the degree of recognition
of the possessor. She assumes European Portuguese is like Brazilian.

13. Possessives with extensive use; A source of definite articles?,
by Kari Fraurud.

The author examined possessive changes as a source of definite
articles. In Komi and Udmurt, (Permic languages of the Uralic
family), Turkish, and Yucatec Maya some possessives may grammaticalize
into definite articles, as do demonstratives in some other languages.
Where there are non-lexical attributive possessives and expressions
with possessive pronouns grammaticalization starts with a possessive
extension with associate anaphora. Degree of referential directness
is the test. Constructions with clitics or affixes Functioning as
possessive determiners, or modifiers may be anchored in several ways.
Associativity is more significant with them than referentiality. The
author made frequency comparisons with English and Swedish, but
avoided a Eurocentric approach to grammar. Both quantitative and
qualitative results were indeterminate.

In each test language, a free morpheme changed to a clitic or affix
without an accompanying change in use. Possessive usage is not
obligatory with any of the extended constructions, associative or
non-associative. Extensive and non-associative possessive uses
continue along with the extensive use of demonstratives. Qualitative
results varied according to language, especially for ''article- like''
terms. Both extended associative anaphoric uses, and direct anaphoric
uses appeared. Both ''article-like'' and discourse extensions
occurred. Fraurud concluded that extended use is about referentiality
and especially, focus of attention, not about possession. Historical
data indicate stability over time, with strong resistance to
morphological change, but less to syntactic.

14. Possessors and experiencers in Classical Latin, by A. Machtelt

Bolkestein emphasizes the difference between datives and genitives in
possessive constructions. He argues for the use of ''Experiencer''
rather than ''Dative'' on some levels of Dik's (1998) hierarchical

The Experiencer possessive is a satellite on the propositional and
utterance levels. The Genitive links associated participants and
predicates properties of possessees. Bolkestein draws upon Classical
Latin for examples in particular, the dativus Sympatheticus to profile
relevant constructions. The analysis is confirmed by correlation with
semantic properties of the dative constructions. Dative-like
Experiencers are ''+animate''. The predicated state of affairs in the
dative construction must be able to affect the Experiencer. Stative
verbs work, but dynamic verbs are more commonly used with
them. Propositions are expanded by the attachment of modal operators
and/or satellites. The Latin examples clearly show dative
constructions delimiting the truth-value of the content proposition as
less than universally accepted. Bolkestein uses ''Experiencer'' on the
propositional level to mean ''Experiencer of the truth-value of the
proposition contained in the utterance'' (p. 281). Datives in the
exchange of utterances between participants, which are not part of
nuclear predication or propositional content, have no affect on
truth-values. Their label is ''Experiencer of the speech situation''
(p. 281).

15. The difference a category makes in the expression of possession
and inalienability, by Marianne Mithun.

The author describes possessive constructions in three North American
languages: Lakhota (Siouan), Kathlamet (Chinook), and Mohawk
(Iroquoian). Although the constructions are apparently attributive,
she says they express ''affectedness of a participant'' in verbal

Some verbal affixes that are clause markers are commonly translated as
possessives. Each pronominal prefix indicates a participant. The
participant's role, if he is directly affected, is patient or
absolutive. If he is indirectly affected it is dative or
beneficiary. Affectedness suggests possession. Direct affectedness
suggests inalienability; indirect affectedness suggests alienability.
The grammatical construction is warranted by the effect of the event
or action upon the participant. It does not specify possession
grammatically. If the hearer understands ''possession'', he infers it
from context and cultural knowledge.

The author examines the interrelationships of the test constructions
with other constructions expressing common relations including
inalienability, partitivity, animacy, intimacy of involvement, and
topicality. She demonstrates that none of those constructions specify
the named meaning grammatically. Hearers infer those meanings on
occasion. Context and speaker's lexical choices differentiate among

16. Ways of explaining possession, by Bernd Heine.

Heine recommends a phenomenological approach to linguistic analysis in
order to understand with certainty, why possession is encoded as it is
cross linguistically. External knowledge affects diachronic
derivation, he says. Possession is an abstraction derived from
simple, concrete constructs. We need to know about those constructs
to understand the abstraction. Good explanations depend upon asking
good questions, then looking hard enough for answers. Possessive
grammatical forms are more likely to result from external influences
encountered in trying to communicate successfully, than from
non-possessive forms. He analyzes use patterns in preference to
developing rules, and eschews monocausal explanations as simplistic.

Predicative possessives interest him here. He demonstrates with
examples from Kxoe (an SOV Khoisan click language of Africa). Using
portmanteau postpositions, he shows that language differences can
complicate the correlation between source schemata and morphosyntactic
patterns. With an example of structural change from locative to
possessive, he demonstrates loss of paradigmatic variability. The new
form is grammaticalized and hence conventionalized, losing its
Paradigmatic variability. Eventually the old schemata give way to new
possessive relations, for which no precedents exist. With a semantic
example of distil and postal postpositions, he demonstrates that
grammar is derived from semantics. Case changes relate to semantic
distinctions. Semantically motivated patterns ultimately become
conventionalized, using extant grammatical modes.


Possession as a focal point for typological analysis functioned as a
prism, rather than a lens. It produced a broad range of interesting
results, but limited solutions. Most papers are substantive and some
are imaginative. Contributions are arranged well in a meaningful
sequence. There are no abstracts, or biographies of authors and no
index. Many languages are cited and much analytical description
given. Research was diligent, but the writing occasionally lacks
focus. The full problem definition often does not emerge until near
the end of the argument when the reader has seen the details without
knowing the author's thinking. And he has occasionally found himself
trapped in thickets of descriptive analysis.

Functional and Lexical Functionalist approaches predominated and seem
appropriate for typological analysis. They define language structure
and allow for variation in individual languages. The papers show
progress in analyzing the usual enigmas, in/alienability relations,
part/whole relations, kinship and body part expressions. The
hierarchical analysis of grammatical constituents has provided
explanations for interpretive anomalies, grammatical features, and
grammaticalization processes. Both synchronic and diachronic analysts
contributed. The diachronic group faces an intimidating need for
information to accomplish its tasks it seems.

Grammaticalization is the most common theme. Constructions are
compared across languages and across time. At least one contributor
used asymmetry (5.). The papers contribute some pieces to the puzzle,
but language types don't emerge clearly. Another writer anticipates
the development of networks of grammatical patterns eventually coming
together in a general picture of language (7). The dream is distant;
we need more knowledge.

Reductionist techniques including prototypes, frames, and case
consolidations deal with complexity. Reductionism is expedient. The
techniques work for restricted tasks but reduce semantic richness.
Building upon a reductionist scheme involves risk to data integrity
that may or may not be calculable.

Case remains an important vehicle for communicating syntax-semantics
notions. Not all authors see the genitive as primarily
possessive. Some understand genitives as associating entities. Others
are aware of its transpositional quality. Attributive possessives were
discussed often. Origin relations were distinguished from possessive
genitives. Possessive gerundives were mentioned in passing. Some
analyses dealt with possessive verbs and their complements.

Some contributors used historical datives and examples from archaic
languages to sort problems in current usage. We still have imprecise
predicate datives with object alternation between experiencer and
recipient (indirect object transferee) interpretations. There was
some analysis of the complex constraints on these constructions needed
to understand possessive semantics. Some writers discussed localist
and possessive interactions. Little was said about psychological
content, even in relation to experiencer interpretations although
process was mentioned and word order. Instrumental, comitative and
benefactive cases were included in some analyses. Greater emphasis on
the lexicon highlights the weakness of our knowledge about the
syntax-semantics interface. Lexical content and grammatical
expression seem to be used as they come to hand to explain
interpretations. Although some writers agreed that grammar derives
from semantics, the semantic analysis was limited.

Many contributors agreed that ''possession'' is derived from
''location'' constructs. There are cognitive relations between
physical property and physical location, but ''possession'' has other
dimensions. The contributors agreed on the diversity of
''possession'' but their working definitions were surprisingly
similar. They reflected linguistic tradition rather than
usage. ''Possession'' is an open-ended concept that we are incapable
of defining precisely, most agreed. Physical control of something
denotes ''possession'' for some as do ''belonging: and
''appurtenance'' for others. ''Ownership'' is commonly equated with
''belonging'', although many people who ''belong'' would not describe
themselves as ''owned''. ''Ownership'' was considered by some as a
subcategory of ''possession'', although ''possession'' may also be
''limited ownership''. One might argue for degrees of ''possession''
and of ''ownership'' some of which overlap. Retention is significant
since all physical possession is limited by time, and control is
seldom, if ever, absolute. It would be useful to know what elements
are grammatically entailed by ownership without possession as well as
by possession without ownership.

Some papers discussed aspects of the semantics of ''have''; others
focussed on the ''get'' verbs and other possessives. There was less
information about verbs of possession than one might expect. Verbs
expressing acquisition, retention transfer, and dispossession are all
of interest. Some examples of problems of current interest involve
the ''switch, swap and exchange'' group, anything useful in
negotiating transfers. There is too little understanding of the
components ''possessor'' and ''possessee''. If one gives knowledge, a
skill, or life, he also still possesses it. If he delivers a message,
the recipient is possessor and the giver is dispossessed. But what if
the message is oral;do not both giver and receiver possess the
content? Although these ideas may be relegated to the pragmatic level
for interpretation in context, they still reflect our lack of
knowledge about the semantics of ''possession'' and the grammatical ?


Judith P. Dick works on full text R. & D. at Software Mechanics
Object-Oriented Consultants in Ottawa. Her doctorate from the
University of Toronto included linguistics. Her interests include
ontology, semantic analysis, legal research and object-oriented
development and architecture. 
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue