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Possessive

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Abstract.  A central question regarding the syntax–semantics interface is the extent to which semantic primitives correspond one‐to‐one with syntactic primitives. Den Dikken (1995) proposed that all possession structures can be derived from an underlying locative structure, extending the work of Freeze (1992). This paper argues that such a unified approach is untenable, as there are possession expressions in Icelandic that cannot be derived from locative structures. The Icelandic vera meĆ° construction, translated as ‘is with’, provides important insight into the nature of have verbs. It is argued, along the lines of Kayne 1993 and Harley 2002, that have is derived from nonlocative prepositions like English with as in the man with blue eyes. A microcomparative investigation within Germanic supports an analysis whereby the variation in incorporation is correlated with variations in p heads. This analysis allows for a more natural account of the differences between have and be languages beyond Germanic.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Lisa Levinson Oakland University 324 O'Dowd Hall Rochester, MI 48309 USA

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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