The Development of Predicative Possession in Slavic Languages
The Grammar of Possessivity in South Slavic Languages: Synchronic and Diachronic Perspectives, Slavic Research Center, (2010)
Possession is among the universal concepts which are hard to de- fine explicitly, since they are inherently vague. The semantic dispersion of possessive language structures from the prototypical possession (ownership) to the abstract one, including both attributive and predica- tive patterning, indicates that this is an extremely fuzzy category. In a great number of possessive constructions the semantic of possession is interwoven with some other meaning as concomitant or even domi- nant, which creates difficulties in defining the concept. R. Mrazek, for example, divides the concept into possession in the narrow sense and possession in a wide sense, where the very moment of possession is weakened and irrelevant, while A. V. Isačenko argues that only the relation of “ownership” deserves the label “possessive”. However, no matter what the proposed subtypes of this cognitive domain are, they all have a common conceptual core.
This core, following H. Seiler, would be a relationship pattern: “linguistic possession consists of the relationship between a substance and another substance”. The concept of possession is linguistically encoded in different ways, but they are all founded on event schemas derived from the more concrete domains of basic physical experiences: Action, Location, Accompaniment and Existence. The goal of this paper is to generally present the development of predicative possession in Slavic languages. We start from the inherited Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Slavic structures and then follow their development in the early history of Slavic. The aim is also to investigate the internal language causes and mechanisms of the change, as well as the possible role of language contacts in the process.