An areal-linguistic study of the alienability correlation and related phenomena in the languages of Europe
This book is a functional-typological study of possession splits in European languages. It shows that genetically and structurally diverse languages such as Icelandic, Welsh, and Maltese display possessive systems which are sensitive to semantically based distinctions reminiscent of the alienability correlation. These distinctions are grammatically relevant in many European languages because they require dedicated constructions. What makes these split possessive systems interesting for the linguist is the interaction of semantic criteria with pragmatics and syntax. Neutralisation of distinctions occurs under focus. The same happens if one of the constituents of a possessive construction is syntactically heavy. These effects can be observed in the majority of the 50 sample languages. Possessive splits are strong in those languages which are outside the Standard Average European group. The bulk of the European languages do not behave much differently from those non-European languages for which possession splits are reported. The book reveals interesting new facts about European languages and possession to typologists, universals researchers, and areal linguists.