Marking versus indexing

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In this article, we build on Johanna Nichols’s influential typological distinction between head and dependent marking by supplementing it with a further dimension, that of indexing. We focus on possessive constructions. Whereas marking indicates where morphology about a relationship goes, indexing indicates which syntactic entity the morphology provides information about. We show that, in principle, the two parameters of marking and indexing are logically independent and that for each marking type any indexing option is possible. Passing to an onto-probe of 138 languages, we find that most logically possible combinations are attested, apart from some cases in which the complexity of the combinations required may make instantiations so rare that their absences are likely to be accidental gaps.


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