Possession syntax in Unua DPs

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The Unua dialect of Unua-Pangkumu, like other Oceanic languages of Vanuatu, has contrasting Direct and Indirect Possession constructions. Although these constructions are well-known from the literature, they have not yet been subsumed into a formal syntactic framework. In the terms of such a treatment, the present paper argues that in Unua the Direct Possessor argument is the syntactic complement of the head noun, whereas the Indirect Possessor argument is freely merged in an intermediate level of the DP structure. The “mirror-image” surface orderings of both types of possession constructions are then shown to be derivable by iterative phrasal movements on a right-branching base hierarchical structure conforming with the Linear Correspondence Axiom of Kayne (1994).


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