• ISSN 0929-998X
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9765
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This article examines the development of the three-participant construction from the two-participant construction in Oceanic languages. This development involves the use of possessive classifiers for recipient or beneficiary marking. Arguments will be put forward in support of the change as an instance of grammaticalization. The change has its origins in pragmatic inferencing: the possessor is construed as a recipient or a beneficiary. Moreover, the change from possession to reception or benefaction is regarded, in terms of reduced structural autonomy, as a shift from a less grammatical to a more grammatical status: the relation between the recipient/beneficiary and the verb is much tighter than that between the possessor and the verb. Evidence will also be brought to bear to demonstrate the grammaticalization of possessive classifiers as recipient or beneficiary markers. In Kusaiean and Mokilese, the grammatical change has resulted in newly created recipient or beneficiary NPs moving into different sentence positions. In Kusaiean and Mokilese, the use of possessive classifiers for beneficiary marking has been extended from transitive to intransitive clauses (i.e. clauses without direct object NPs). In Lenakel, one of the multiple possessive classifiers, all used to express possession, has been chosen and pressed into the service of encoding benefaction.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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