Northern Mansi possessive suffixes in non-possessive function

  • Gwen Eva Janda Department of Finno-Ugric Studies, Ludwig Maximilians Universität (LMU) Munich
Keywords: Ob-Ugric languages, possessive suffixes, reference-point construction, nonprototypical use, anaphoric and deictic reference, information structure


Research on possessive suffixes in Ob-Ugric languages, as in most Uralic languages, has primarily viewed them in the light of their terminological denomination – i.e., as markers of possessive relations, traditionally referred to as their prototypic use. Whenever this onomasiology-based approach fails, the usage of possessive suffixes is considered non-prototypical; a secondary or determinative function of possessive suffixes is cited. In my paper, I will claim that the original function of possessive suffixes in Ob-Ugric languages is not to denote a possessive relation and, in consequence, there is no concept of non-prototypical use. Instead, possessive suffixes denote a relation between two entities, whose default interpretation is a possessive one. I will claim that both, the prototypic and the non-prototypic use is an outcome of the very same property of possessive suffixes, which is to establish reference. In consequence, possessive suffixes play an important role in information structure.