Palenquero expresses the nominal relation of possessed + possessor in two ways: via a direct construction (juxtaposition of elements), or via one in which ri ‘of’ (variants re, de, di, i, e, etc.) connects the two nouns. The relation between two nouns (N + N) or between a noun and nominal substitute (N + Pro) is always expressed in the order possessed + possessor.
We and other specialists (Patiño Rosselli (1983) included) of Palenquero have generally assumed that there exists no semantic difference between the direct and the indirect constructions. Moñino now makes compelling arguments that the situation is not as simple. In N+N syntagms, free variation indeed seems to be occurring so that kala Lole ‘Lole’s face’ could thus just as well have been expressed via kala ri Lole without any change in meaning.
However, in N + P syntagms, the selection between direct and indirect construction is conditioned by the semantic category of the noun. With 1st- and 2nd-person possessive adjectives, a finite list of nouns denoting body parts and family relationships only admit the direct construction (thus tatá sí ‘your dad’ but never *tatá ri sí. With other nouns, the direct as well as the indirect construction is admissible.