Possessives and relational nouns

Chris Barker

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    This article concentrates on nominal possessives (John's friend) rather than on verbal possessives (John has a friend). In John's friend, John is the POSSESSOR, and friend describes the entity possessed (the POSSESSEE). Nominal possessives constitute a major construction type in the languages of the world. In contrast with a sortal noun (e.g., person), friend is a (two-place) RELATIONAL NOUN: a person counts as a friend only in virtue of standing in a particular relationship with another individual. Relational nouns are an important element in the study of possessives because the content of a possessive typically, perhaps characteristically, depends on the content of a relational nominal. Possessives provide particularly compelling support for type shifting as a general principle of syntactic and semantic composition. Possessives also inform debates involving definiteness, binding, and a wide variety of other semantic phenomena.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationSemantics
    PublisherDe Gruyter
    Number of pages22
    ISBN (Electronic)9783110255072
    ISBN (Print)9783110185232
    StatePublished - Dec 23 2011

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Arts and Humanities
    • General Social Sciences


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