<i>Leipzig fourmille de typologues</i>: Genitive objects in comparison

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In this paper we examine genitive objects in some of the major European languages (French, Italian, Latin, German, English) and propose a semantic invariant for them: We claim that in the great majority of cases, the genitive object can be said to express a background theme, i.e., a participant whose location (concrete or abstract) is at issue and which is not a (secondary) figure (e.g., <i>Grev cleared the table of the dishes</i>, where the genitive object <i>of the dishes </i>is a moving object, but the location is the secondary figure). Genitive objects also occur with verbs in the semantic domains of possession (e.g., French <i>fournir </i>‘supply’), cognition (e.g., English <i>warn of</i>), and emotion (e.g., German <i>sich erbarmen </i>‘have pity’). These other domains can be thought of as modeled on the local domain, with the roles of possessor, cognizer and emoter taking the place of the location.


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