The rise and demise of possessive classifiers in Austronesian
Some Austronesian languages make a grammatical distinction between alienable and inalienable possession, with further distinctions in alienable possession. While the rise of the alienable–inalienable contrast may be due to contact with Papuan languages, the development of the contrasts within alienable possession is internal to Austronesian. Similar complex systems of possessive constructions are found in some languages spoken in other parts of the world. In one subgroup of Austronesian the contrasts within alienable possession have been lost and only the alienable–inalienable distinction persists. The paper reviews the claim of Papuan–Austronesian contact, and argues that grammatical contrasts in alienable possession are cognitively/functionally motivated and that there are no such motivating factors in inalienable possession.