The topic of this chapter is the expresssion of personal pronoun possessors modifying a possessed noun, as in ‘my mother’ or ‘her house’. In Chapter 2, the order of possessor and possessum was dealt with, and in this chapter and in the following two chapters, the grammatical coding of possessors is at the centre of our attention. Since pronominal possessors and full NP possessors are often treated differently in languages, there are two different chapters for the marking of these two possessor types. The marking of full NP possessors is the topic of the next chapter (Chapter 38). In addition to the coding types, this chapter also takes into account the order of pronominal possessor and possessum, as Chapter 2 is restricted to full NP possessors.
As in the other chapters on adnominal possessive constructions, possession is defined as comprising ownership, body-part and kinship relations. Of course, other relationships are often coded in the same way as these (e.g. ‘our school’, ‘your chair’), but these other relationships are more difficult to characterize, and we leave them aside. We do not consider contrasts between ownership on the one hand and kinship and bodypart relations on the other. Such grammatical contrasts (known as alienable/inalienable contrasts) seem to play (almost) no role in pidgin and creole languages (cf. McWhorter 2001: 126, 153) and are therefore not taken into account here.
In this chapter, only non-contrastive, non-focused adnominal possessors with an overt possessed noun are taken into account. Focused adnominal possessors (e.g. ‘your house’) and independently used possessors (e.g. ‘yours’) are often coded differently (see Chapter 39 for independent pronominal possessors).
Predicative possession (as in ‘He has a big house’) is treated in Chapter 77.
Three coding types (possessive word, adpositional phrase, affix) and two ordering types (preceding, following) are distinguished, which yields six feature values.
|Adpositional phrase preceding the possessum||3||15||18|
|Adpositional phrase following the possessum||9||23||32|
When the pronominal possessor is a single word, it is often called possessive pronoun. These precede the possessum (value 1) in most Atlantic and Indian Ocean pidgins and creoles with European lexifiers, as illustrated in (1)-(3).
Similar constructions are also found in English-based and Dutch-based languages elsewhere (e.g. Singlish, Chinese Pidgin English, Hawai‘i Creole, Afrikaans), as well as in Asian Spanish- and Portuguese-based creoles. In all these cases, the forms are fairly close to the corresponding forms of the lexifier. In most languages, the actual forms of the possessive pronouns are different from the subject or object pronouns, but in some, they are always identical (e.g. in Chinese Pidgin English, where the possessive pronouns are identical to object pronouns, e.g. you pidgin ‘your business’, or in Singapore Bazaar Malay).
Possessive pronouns follow the possessum (value 2) in far fewer languages. The most striking group is the Atlantic French-based creoles and the Portuguese-based creoles of the Gulf of Guinea, and another example is Palenquero:
It seems that this ordering is substrate-influenced, though this is not easy to demonstrate (but see Schwegler (2002) for Palenquero, Lefebvre (1998: 143-147) for Haitian Creole.) Other languages with a following possessive word are Juba Arabic, Pidgin Hawaiian and Mixed Ma’a/Mbugu.
When the pronominal possessor is marked by an adposition (normally a preposition), this adpositional phrase more typically follows the possessum. But adpositional phrases preceding the possessor (value 3) are found, for example, in several Caribbean English-based creoles (e.g. 7). However, in Jamaican (and maybe also in others) this pattern seems to have a special contrastive sense.
In addition, it is found in a number of Asian languages and in Kriol. The use of prepositional phrases as preposed possessors is unexpected, because “in languages with prepositions, the genitive almost always follows the governing noun” (Greenberg 1963, Universal 2).
Other languages with preposed adpositional phrases have postpositions, as is more expected from the point of view of word order typology. Interestingly, both Batavia Creole and Ambon Malay (as well as Singapore Bazaar Malay) have postpositions (rather than prepositions) as possessive markers, suggesting that Batavia Creole is influenced by Malay. However, etymologically the postposition sua comes from a possessive pronoun (in indexing function, as described in Chapter 38).
Adpositional phrases following the possessor (value 4) are the second most widespread type. Since this is by far the most widespread type when the possessor is a full NP, it is not surprising that quite a few languages use the same pattern with personal pronouns, e.g.
Finally, prefixes (value 5) and suffixes (value 6) are quite marginal in APiCS. Prefixes occur in Michif, but only in those (relatively few) nouns that derive from Cree (e.g. ki-tawakay-a [2SG-ear-PL.INAN] ‘your ears’). Suffixes occur in Sango (marginally) and in Kinubi, again marginally, following the Arabic pattern (e.g. abú-i ‘my father’). And it should be kept in mind that the preceding and following words of values 1 and 2 are also often affix-like.