In Chapter 37, we looked at dependent pronominal possessors that occur with an overt possessed noun, as in ‘my house’. Here we will look at independent pronominal possessors, such as ‘mine’. Independent pronominal possessors are used when the possessed noun is not overt but must be inferred from the context, for example in comparative constructions (cf. 1) or in elliptical answers (cf. 2).
Independent pronominal possessors are also common in predicative position, as in (3).
When they occur in an ordinary argument position, as in (4), there must be an antecedent in the earlier context (e.g. ‘Didn’t you say that your brother and you both lost your keys?’).
What we study primarily is the form of the independent personal pronoun possessor in comparison with the dependent personal pronoun possessor. The two can be formally identical (as in Gurindji Kriol: ngayiny walaku ‘my dog’ vs. ngayiny ‘mine’), or a special preposition may be used for independent possessors (as in Guinea-Bissau Kriyol: nha fidju ‘my son’ vs. di mi ‘mine’), or another special word may be used (as in Pichi: yù hia ‘your hair’, yù yon ‘yours’), or a special form of the possessive personal pronoun may be used (as in Afrikaans: haar seun ‘her son’, hare ‘hers’). Thus, four different feature values are distinguished:
|Identical to dependent pronominal possessor||28||6||34|
|Special preposition plus pronoun||9||4||13|
|Special word plus dependent pronominal possessor||13||6||19|
|Special pronoun form||10||8||18|
The most common type of language has the same form for both the dependent and the independent possessor (value 1). This occurs especially in languages whose pronominal possessors include an overt possessive marker, e.g. Sri Lankan Malay (go-pe bapa [I-gen father] ‘my father’) and Bislama (woman blong yu ‘your wife’):
APiCS languages with formally simple possessive pronouns (like English my mother) never seem to use these also for independent possessors.
Value 1 is chosen also if a language has two different dependent constructions, and the independent possessor is identical with just one of them. For example, in Belizean Creole, independent possessors are expressed by the preposition fu (e.g. Da aysbaks fu i. ‘This icebox is his.’). This is also one option for dependent possessors (fu dem mone ‘their money’), which exists alongside another option (i hɛd ‘his head’). It appears that in all these cases, the independent possessor is identical with the longer (overtly marked) form of the dependent pronominal possessor. Another example comes from Ternate Chabacano, where the independent possessor is marked by di, as in (7a), like the longer form of the dependent possessor (as in 7b), and unlike the shorter form (as in 7c). Singapore Bazaar Malay is similar.
In some languages, there is a special possessive preposition (value 2) that is used for independent possessors, but not for dependent possessors. Some examples are given in (7). This occurs particularly in Caribbean English-based creoles, in Indian Ocean French-based creoles, and in some Portuguese-based creoles of the Gulf of Guinea. A sentence example is (8).
(Note that the preposition ri is not excluded in adnominal position. Palenquero allows expressions such as moná ri ele [daughter of he] ‘his daughter’, but prefers possessives without preposition such as moná mi ‘my son’. For this reason, the use of ri in (9) is regarded as a “special preposition”.)
In languages of the third type, there is a special word that takes the place of the possessum and that is combined with the ordinary dependent possessives (value 3). This occurs especially in the English-based and the French-based languages, and is found almost exclusively in the Atlantic region. In the former group, the English words one and own have given rise to such special words (e.g. Singlish his one ‘his’; Gullah hənə own [2pl own] ‘yours’, Cameroon Pidgin English ma on ‘mine’, Vincentian Creole foyu oon ‘yours’). In the French-based languages, the special word is pa (Haitian Creole pa m ‘mine’), or ta (Martinican Creole ta mwen ‘mine’), or kenn/tchenn (Louisiana Creole mo-kenn ‘mine’, so-kenn ‘hers’). Of these, pa seems to be derived from French part ‘part’. Special words also occur in two of the Portuguese-based Gulf of Guinea creoles: Fa d’Ambô has xa (e.g. xa-bo [thing-2sg] ‘yours’), and Principense, illustrated in (9), has ki, which behaves like a noun and may go back to coisa ‘thing’.
One may ask whether there is such a clear difference between such a special word and a special preposition (value 2). In fact, for Guadeloupean and Martinican Creole, the word ta (as in ta mwen ‘mine’) is called a preposition by Colot & Ludwig (2013a, b), and is even glossed ‘of’. However, in contrast to the prepositions in value 2, this element does not occur anywhere else in the language. (So by “special preposition”, we really mean a word that occurs elsewhere in the language as a preposition, but not in possessive constructions with dependent pronoun.)
In the fourth type, there is a special pronoun form of the independent possessive pronoun, as in English (mine, yours, hers, ours, etc.). This mostly occurs in English-based languages, which sometimes preserve the kind of distinction that exists in English, especially when they are influenced by English (e.g. African American English mine or mines, Gullah mine, Hawai’i Creole maɪn, Nicaraguan Creole English owarz). Similarly, in Cavite Chabacano the Spanish distinction between mi ‘my’ and mío ‘mine’ has been preserved. The form in (10) is another possibility, alongside the form with di illustrated above in (3).
In Spanish, the dependent forms mi, tu, su are simply shortened forms of the independent forms mío, tuyo, suyo. This also occurs in some APiCS languages. For example, in Cape Verdean Creole of São Vicente, the form nha ‘my’ (as in nha káza ‘my house’) appears to be just a shortening of minha ‘mine’ (from Portuguese minha ‘my, mine’). Similarly, in Juba Arabic, tai ‘my’ (e.g. ida tai ‘my hand’) is a shortened form of bitai ‘mine’ (de bitai ‘this is mine’). The origin is a noun bita- ‘possession’, which takes pronominal suffixes (bita-i ‘mine’ < ‘my possession’, bita-ki ‘yours’ < ‘your possession’, etc.). In Afrikaans, too, the independent form hare is a nonreduced variant of the dependent form haar.
In Michif, the independent pronominal possessor derives from Cree, whereas the dependent pronominal possessor derives from French (ma liivr ‘my book’).