The rise of DP-internal possessors

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The traditional explanation of the emergence of DP-internal possessors (due to H. Paul and O. Behaghel) assumes a kind of structural reanalysis: The DP-internal possessor originated from an adverbal dative DP which became reanalysed as part of the possessee-DP since both DPs supposedly happened to appear adjacent in most cases. This paper proposes a new explanation, based on the development of possessive pronouns. Possessive pronouns evolved out of genitive forms of personal pronouns and Old High German still lacked true possessive pronouns. They developed into adjectives only later in the Middle High German period and into determiners in New High German. Adopting a small clause analysis for possessive constructions, the development of possessive pronouns and the emergence of DP-internal possessors can be reconstructed as follows: As personal pronouns they occupied the possessor position within the small clause, and only when they developed into adjectives and determiners, their base position must be higher within the DP leaving the DP-internal possessor position empty which thus could be filled by a full DP which then moves to Spec-DP. This possessor DP was originally case-marked with genitive and not with dative.


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