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Possession as a conceptual domain and its representations in various languages have long been the focus of numerous studies in linguistics ([phrase omitted] 2010; Heine 1997; Payne, Barshi 1999; Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2003; Stassen 2009; Wagner-Nagy 2014, and others). It has been established that the concept of possession is a universal notion (Stolz, Kettler, Stroh, Urdze 2008 : 6). However, its manifestation in languages may vary considerably (Broschart 2001; Honti 2008). The numerous ways and patterns of expressing possessive relations in languages throughout the world have enabled linguists to work out taxonomies of linguistic means capable of conveying the idea of possession. Such a typological perspective enables the researcher to analyze many grammatical constructions in various languages.

Possessive constructions in the languages of the Ob-Yenissei area (e.g. Eastern Khanty, Southern Selkup, Ket, Teleut, Nganasan) have also been thoroughly described (;; Vorobjova, Novitskaja, Girfanova, Vesnin 2017). however, this task is far from being complete since not all languages or dialects have been addressed and not all types of such constructions and their functions have been covered.

The goal of the present article is to carry out an analysis, within a general functional-typological framework, of all cases in which the concept of possession was identified in the Obdorsk dialect of Khanty. This approach has enabled us to work out a system of means capable of conveying the idea of possessive relations as it has been attested in five texts in the Obdorsk dialect.

Methodological background

In the present paper we follow the opinion that possession is both a conceptual and grammatical category, which can be viewed as part of a broader conceptual category of relativity ([phrase omitted] 1990; McGregor 2009). From the semantic standpoint, the concept of possession involves such domains as (legal) ownership, belonging, kinship and part-whole relations (Seiler 1983: 4). Each domain may allow further subcategorization into alienable and inalienable possession ([phrase omitted] 2010 : 15-21).

In linguistic terms, there are two entities: a possessor and a possessed (also designated as a possessum, possessee) which are in a possessive relation (designated as a relator). The possessive relation is 'asymmetric' (Stassen 2009 : 11) in that the possessor controls the possessed. Both the possessor and the possessed can be encoded by a noun or a pronoun. The possessive relation can be manifested in three types of syntactical constructions: predicative (Stassen 2009; Kowalik 2016), adnominal (KoptjevskajaTamm 2002; 2006; [phrase omitted] 2007; Duguine 2008; Krasnoukhova 2011) and external (Haspelmath 1999). As languages tend to manifest the concept of possession not on the syntactical level alone, there are also some morphological means to encode possessive relations (e.g. the English -'s, or the Russian suffixes -o[??]-, -in- as in [phrase omitted]) as well as lexical ones (English property, possession, my, their). Hence, the relator can be either overtly expressed by a verb, take the form of a more or less bound case marker, or have a zero marking (Tham 2013). In terms of the prototypical approach, possessive relations may vary with regard to the co-occurrence of their typical features (Taylor 1996; Mazzitelli 2015).

The core syntactical construction to encode the concept of possession is adnominal or attributive (Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2002 : 765; Budzisch 2015 : 45). In adnominal possession, a possessive construction involves two elements, a possessor and a possessee, which jointly constitute a noun phrase (NP), specifically, a possessive NP (PNP) (Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2001). The possessor can be either pronominal or nominal, thus we deem it appropriate to speak about the pronominal possessive construction and the nominal possessive construction. Additionally, a PNP may contain relators, or construction markers (CMs), whose function is to mark explicitly the exact type of relation between the possessor and the possessee (Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2002). In a PNP, construction markers can be morphologically bound either to the possessor (dependent-marking), the possessee (head-marking), or both (double-marking), or they can function as unbound elements (KoptjevskajaTamm 2001). In languages throughout the world the concept of possession (represented by numerous semantic categories) in a PNP is either morphologically marked (e.g. by case-markers, possessive markers, prepositions, prefixes, linking pronouns) or not (e.g. compounding, juxtaposing); in the former case, the CMs can be found either in pre- or post-position to the marked element (Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2001, 2002). Both types of word-order, i.e., possessee--possessor and possessor--possessee are found with an almost equal frequency in the language systems of the world (Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2001). Languages in Europe preferentially use dependent-marking PNPs. In the eastern and southeastern periphery of Europe double-marked and prepositional PNPs tend to be common (Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2003). Globally, dependent-marking PNPs and their analytic counterparts are the preferred PNP types (Nichols, Bickel 2013). Views differ on the commonality of the head-marked possessive NPs in the Americas and the Pacific (Dixon, Aikhenvald 1999; Krasnoukhova 2011). Juxtaposition is, in general, quite uncommon (Nichols, Bickel 2013).

Opposed to the adnominal possessive construction there is the predicative possessive construction. In predicative possession, the relations of possession are construed in the main predication of a clause or sentence, that is, the possessed item is predicated of a possessor (Stassen 2013). Predicative possession encodes the possessive relationship between a possessor and a possessee either in the form of a syntactically transitive construction (habeo-possessive constructions) or a syntactically intransitive one (existential sentences or esse-possessive constructions) (Stassen 2013). The intransitive possessive constructions can further be divided into three subtypes (the oblique/locational possessive, the topic possessive and the conjunctional possessive / the with-possessive) depending on how the possessor and the possessee are encoded (Stassen 2009; 2013). Another type of intransitive possessive constructions, albeit not unanimously accepted by researchers, is the genitive possessive that "shares several features with the locational, with- and topic possessives. It consists, in its standard version, of an intransitive existential clause containing a verb 'to be/exist'. [--] The possessor is marked 'genitival', that is, the possessor acts as a modifier of the possessed". Interestingly this construction recruits the already existing marking of (adnominal/attributive) possession to express even predicative possession (Stassen 2009 : 107; Kowalik 2016 : 9). In the languages of the world the genitive possessive can be overtly marked with a genitive case or remain unmarked/zero, while the existential verb does not necessarily have to be present (Kowalik 2016 : 10).

The third type of possessive constructions, i.e. the external possessive, differs from the above-mentioned types in that it does not have a possessive modifier as a dependent constituent of the modified NP. The possessive NPs occur NP-externally as constituents of the clause (Haspelmath 1999 : 1). External possessive constructions code the possessor as a core grammatical relation of the verb and in a constituent separate from the one containing the possessed item (Payne, Barshi 1999). Although this type of possessive constructions have been identified in various languages of the world, the marking of the possessive relation does not boil down to a one-for-all option (Haspelmath 1999). As evidence shows, the possessor in such constructions may be dative-marked, locative-marked, or adessive-marked, which is claimed to be areally specified (Haspelmath 1999 : 11-13).

Analysis of possessive constructions may be carried out within a certain paradigm (Heine 1997; Stassen 2009; Tham 2013) and may involve taking into account some key properties attributed to the possessor (human/non-human), the possessee (animate/inanimate), and the type of relation of possession (alienable/inalienable, physical, abstract, or temporary/permanent) (Stassen 2009). Nevertheless, other properties may also affect the way of encoding the concept of possession: the use of a noun or a pronoun to encode the possessor, the number and definiteness of the possessor, and others (Kowalik 2016).

Presentation of examples

In the present article, all examples in the Obdorsk dialect are presented in the following way: in the first line an example is written in the orthography used in Nikolaeva 1999b and after the example a reference to the text is given including information about the number of the text in Nikolaeva 1999b, section number and page number. The example is glossed using the Leipzig Glossing Rules in the second line. Its translation into English is presented in the third line. Examples are numbered from one (1) onwards throughout the article. For morpheme boundaries we follow the glossing traditions of some other authors ([phrase omitted] 1995; Nikolaeva 1999b).

Genealogical and sociolinguistic profile of the Obdorsk dialect

The Obdorsk dialect (an older name is Ostyak) represents the northern subgroup of the Khanty dialect continuum that belongs to the Ugric (Uralic) family (Abondolo 1998 : 358; Nikolaeva 1999a : 3; [phrase omitted] 2002 : 6). The Obdorsk dialect of Khanty is an endangered language spoken by the indigenous people of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug as well as of Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug in the Tjumen region in Russia ([phrase omitted] 1995 : 6-7). According to estimates, in 1989 the number of people speaking Khanty (all dialects) was around 22,000, of which only 62.9% were native speakers (Abondolo 1998). The 2010 census data showed that there had remained only 9,580 speakers out the ethnic population of 30,900 (

The three dialect groups of Khanty (Eastern, Northern and Southern) are different in terms of survival. While the southern dialects of Khanty are no longer used, the eastern and northern dialects still survive in the home, but the few Khanty-speaking youth are forced to switch to Russian, which they tend to name as their first language (Nikolaeva 1999a : 3). The best preserved are the northern dialects of Kazym, Suryskar, Berjozov, and Obdorsk, out of which the latter is attested in "Das Evangelium Matthaei" (1868) as well as in a corpus containing 27 texts ( The eastern dialects of Khanty (Vach, Vasjugan, Surgut, Trom-Jugan) are more endangered than Northern dialects, but there still survive linguistic traditions in some isolated, remote settlements such as the small settlement of Korliki where Vach speakers reside. (1)

The Obdorsk dialect has two variants: the Sob and the Polujsk local idioms (spoken by people in the settlements Katravoz and Pelvoz situated in the lower basin of the Ob), which are fairly close with respect to their morphology and syntax but display some differences in their vocal systems and declension ([phrase omitted] 1995 : 7; Nikolaeva 1999a : 4).

Grammatical profile of the Obdorsk dialect

A number of grammatical features are presented here to assist the comprehension of the examples given in the results section of the article. The grammatical features are listed in accordance with the evidence discussed in [phrase omitted] 1995; Nikolaeva 1999a; [phrase omitted] 2002; [phrase omitted] 2011.

Khanty exhibits the typological features of a SOV language, and the SOV word order is indeed the most frequent in the Obdorsk dialect (Nikolaeva 1999a).

The inflectional words usually have an agglutinative structure which may involve 5-7 morphemes (root, 2-3 derivational affixes, tense, voice and agreement). While in the majority of cases a word can be presented as a linear sequence of distinct morphs, each of which has a regular shape and a single function, the boundaries between morphemes can at times be vague, and some morphemes can be syncretic in terms of their functional meaning. The majority of affixes are suffixes. The so-called preverbs represent a category intermediate between a free lexical item and a bound morpheme. Some function words (mostly focus particles) are clitics. There are also some analytical constructions (certain aspectual, temporal and modal categories).

Depending on their semantics, Obdorsk nouns are divided into animate and inanimate, they have two declension types (main/absolute and possessive), they inflect for number, case and possession; however, they do not have grammatical categories of gender, class, and definiteness. Nouns distinguish between singular (SG), dual (DU) and plural (PL). The case system includes the unmarked Nominative (NOM), the Locative (LOC) and the Translative (TRNS). Adnominal possession is marked with possessive suffixes that are inflected for person and number. Possessive forms indicate one of the three numbers and three persons (1, 2, 3) of the possessor by means of possessive suffixes that attach to the possessed noun. The number of the possessed noun is expressed by a number affix preceding the possessive affixes.

With regard to their inflectional properties, adjectives are not distinguishable from nouns. However, adjectives participate in analytical comparative and superlative constructions and function as adverbial modifiers of manner.

Personal and possessive pronouns distinguish three numbers and three persons.

Verbs are divided into transitive and intransitive, they inflect for tense (Present, Past, analytical Future), mood (Indicative and Oblique--Imperative, Evidential, Adhortative, Optative, Conjunctive, Conditional), voice (Active with two conjugations: subjective and objective, and Passive), aspect (General and Stative), they have three numbers as well as subject agreement and object agreement. Along with finite forms, there are infinite forms: Infinitive, Participle, Converb (verbal adverb).

An important feature of Obdorsk is a tendency to omit copulae under certain circumstances.

Sources of the language data

The Obdorsk texts analyzed in the present article are published in Nikolaeva 1999b:

1. Fox: Text 22 (pp. 60-64), recorded from Stepan Kelcin in Katravoz, 1990.

2. Husband and wife: Text 10 (pp. 32-33), recorded from Anna Seraschova in Katravoz, 1990.

3. Willow grouse: Text 15 (pp. 36-37), recorded from Dmitrij Tobolcin in Katravoz, 1990.

4. Three sons: Text 6 (pp. 24-25), recorded from Irina Sjazi in Katravoz, 1990.

5. Wonderful baby: Text 3 (pp. 16-19), recorded from Irina Sjazi in Katravoz, 1990.

All texts chosen for the analysis are of different lengths, they collectively consist of 380 sentences. Every text is a Khanty fairy-tale.


In this section we present the outcomes of an analysis that aimed at identifying and sorting all cases with different possessive constructions. Subsequently, all constructions were grouped according to type and analyzed in terms of salient features.

Adnominal possession

Adnominal possessive constructions are common in the Obdorsk texts. The most frequent type of adnominal possessives is built according to the following model:

Model 1. Head Marking in NP

[([.sup.Pr]dependent-NP).sub.possessor]--[.sup.N]head-[NP.sub.possessed] + possessive suffix

In Model 1 the locus of marking is on the head. The possessor, in preposition to the marked possessed, is explicit in 13 out of the 90 examples of this type found in the texts. In the remaining 77 examples of such constructions, the possessor is marked implicitly with a possessive suffix attached to the head, which, according to Nikolaeva (1995 : 166), is a common practice, since an explicit marking of the pronominal possessor is only required to express certain emphasis or contrast. The possessed can be either a person/relative (e.g. woman, wife, daughter, people, husband, sister, father, bride), a living being (e.g. horse, herd, willow grouse), a body part (e.g. arm, leg, heart, head), an ability (e.g. strength, mind), or an object (e.g. house, kerchief, earth, bridge, pocket, money, sled, noose, word, path, etc.). These semantic groups comply with those classes of nouns that are included in the category of inalienable possession (body parts and kin relations, part-whole or spatial relations, culturally important possessed items such as names, domestic animals, shadows, souls, etc., but also such items as exuviae, speech, footprints, mental and physiological states, pets) (Heine 1997 : 10; Kockelman 2009 : 29). It can thus be presumed that this model of possessive constructions tends to be used to mark the concept of inalienable possession in Obdorsk. This type can be illustrated by Examples 1-5 with an explicit possessor and Examples 6-8 with an implicitly marked possessor:
(1) wan [phrase omitted]
short be-PST-3DU long be-PST-3DU 3sg  woman-SG.POSS.3SG
[phrase omitted]  (Text 10,
[section] 4, p. 32)
three times walk-EP-PST.3SG town-LOC
'Over long or short, his wife went to town three times'

(2) [phrase omitted]
how think-PRS-EP-1SG and say-EP-PRS 2du thing-EP-SG.POSS.2DU
[phrase omitted]  (Text 22, [section] 3, p. 61)
'I think that your task is to give the bridal ransom'

(3) [phrase omitted]
3sg say-EP-PRS.3SG 1sg det woman-SG.POSS.1SG eye-ADJ.CAR
[phrase omitted]  (Text 15, [section] 1, p. 36)
ear-ADJ.CAR and neg can-PRS house-SG.POSS.3SG det
'And he answered: My wife is blind and deaf, she cannot clean the

(4) [phrase omitted]
[phrase omitted]  (Text 6, [section] 2, p. 25)
1sg noose-SG.POSS.1SG set-PTCP1-3SG really neg
'Then he said: No, they don't set my nooses at all'

(5) [phrase omitted],
how make-PRS.3SG say-EP-PRS.3SG 1pl thing-SG.POSS.1PL
[phrase omitted]  (Text 22, [section] 7, p. 62)
dem and woman-EP-2DU take-IMP-PL
'This is our matter, take the woman'

(6) [phrase omitted] (Text 3, [section] 3, p. 17)
1du child-SG.POSS.1DU big-TRNS come-PST.3SG
'Our child has become big'

(7) [phrase omitted]
fox old:man go-CVB fat-EP-ADJ.PRPR morsel
[phrase omitted]
[phrase omitted]  (Text 22, [section] 9, p. 62)
heart-EP-SG.POSS.3SG fat-LOC be-PRS.3SG
'Old man fox went and tore of off the fatty pieces, ate, his heart
was covered with fat'

(8) [phrase omitted]
father-SG.POSS.1SG mother-SG.POSS.1SG be-PTCP2-3PL
[phrase omitted]  (Text 3, [section] 6, p. 18)
from [work]-EP-SG.POSS.3SG few be-PST.3SG
'While my father and mother lived, they had little work'

As I. Nikolaeva mentions, in a word combination with a pronominal possessor, a possessed noun bears the morphological marking of the internal constructional possessive relations (Nikolaeva 1999a : 52).

The first type of the adnominal possessive construction can be compounded by one more dependent element (see Model 1a) that characterizes the possessed item. (I. Nikolaeva (1999 : 52) calls the case 'a construction with multiple possessors'). It is illustrated in Examples 9-10.

Model 1a. Head Marking in NP

[([.sup.Pr]dependent-NP).sub.possessor]--[.sup.N]dependent-[NP.sub.possessor]--[.sup.N]head-[NP.sub.possessor]+ possessive suffix
(9) [phrase omitted]
cow herd-SG.POSS.3SG sheep herd-SG.POSS.3SG
[phrase omitted]  (Text 22, [section] 14, p. 64)
reindeer herd-SG.POSS.3SG
'The herd of cows, the herd of sheep, the herd of reindeer'

(10) [phrase omitted]
[phrase omitted]
money-EP-PL gold-ADJ.PRPR money kopeck-PL-3SG silver money
[phrase omitted]
kopeck-PL-POSS.3SG copper money kopeck-PL-POSS.3SG to:there foc
[phrase omitted]
here foc say-EP-PRS how:many kopeck only leave-INTR-EP-PST.3SG
pa  si  antam (Text 22, [section] 7, p. 62)
'In my pocket I found only a bit, a few kopecks remained, gold
kopecks, silver kopecks, copper kopecks'

In Examples (9-10) the possessor is implicitly marked by a possessive suffix, while the possessed is expressed by an attributive word combination: gold money, silver money, cow herd, reindeer herd, etc.

A closer look at the functioning of the possessive suffix in the examples built according to Model 1 enables one to notice that these suffixes may also be used in a non-possessive sense, for example as markers of definiteness or associative possessiveness, which is in line with what has been observed before (Nikolaeva 1999a : 52, 83). The same examples can be given as an illustration of the non-possessive use of possessive suffixes as markers of identifiability or direct anaphoric use (Budzisch 2017 : 58). Consider the following examples (11-15):
(11) [phrase omitted]
land-SG.POSS.3SG ahead dig-PRS-SG.1SG and 2sg inside from
[phrase omitted]  (Text 22, [section] 1, p. 60)
kick-DER.FREQ-IMP.SG break-IMP.2SG
'I'll keep on digging the earth and you'll kick and thrust from

(12) [phrase omitted]
and det say-EP-PRS.3SG woman-SG.POSS.3SG say-EP-PRS.3SG 1pl-ep-pl dem
[phrase omitted]
ring-EP-ADJ.PRPR arm-ADJ.COM three woman iron-ADJ.PRPR plait-ADJ.COM
[phrase omitted]
three woman decorated coat-ADJ.COM three woman, say-EP-PRS.3SG
[phrase omitted]
1sg foc say-EP-PRS.3SG sister-PL-POSS.1SG companion-LOC
[phrase omitted]  (Text 10, [section] 4, p. 33)
'The wife said: It's us, three women with rings in our hands, three
women with iron plaits, three women in decorated fur coats, it's me
that came with the sister s'

(13) [phrase omitted]
horse-PL-POSS.2SG take-IMP-PL and front-PL-POSS.3PL homewards
[phrase omitted]  (Text 6, [section] 3, p. 25)
harness-IMP-PL arse-PL-POSS.3PL ahead harness-IMP-PL
'Take the horses and harness them with their back to the front,
with their front to the back'

(14) [phrase omitted]
intj det so walk-EP-DER.IPFV-PTCP1-3SG from that herd-SG.POSS.3SG
[phrase omitted] (Text 3, [section] 4, p. 17)
group forever for big-TRANS come-PRS.3SG
'While he roamed in this way, the herd grew very large'

(15) [phrase omitted]  anti:
[phrase omitted]
neg if know-PRS-EP-2PL say-EP-PRS one horse-EP-SG.POSS.2DU/PL
[phrase omitted] (Text 6, [section] 3, p. 25)
'He then said: If you can't, give me one of the horses'

As the above examples indicate, possessive suffixes of the third and second person can be employed in this function. In Example (12) the suffix of the first person is attached to the head noun accompanied by the post-positive element pil-na, thus forming a construction that will be discussed further.

A non-possessive, direct anaphoric use of the possessive suffix to mark an already mentioned referent, which is known to be a common feature of many Uralic languages (Budzisch 2017), is found in the text about a willow grouse, where the mention of the bird in a subsequent sentence requires marking with a possessive affix:
(16) [phrase omitted]
one-LOC det sky from walk-EP-PRS.3SG middle from det
[phrase omitted]  (Text 15, [section] 1, p. 36)
willow.grouse arrive-PRS.3SG
'Once a willow grouse came flying along through the sky'
[phrase omitted]
willow.grouse-EP-SG.POSS.3SG-LOC ask-PRS-PASS old:man old:man
[phrase omitted]  (Text 15, [section] 1, p.
2sg what-TRNS house-SG.POSS.2SG dirt-ADJ.PRPR
'The willow grouse asked him: Old man, old man, why is your
house filthy?'

An analysis of how possessive suffixes can function in Obdorsk texts enabled us to reveal a structural variant of the model under discussion. This variant incorporates a postpositive element pil-na 'with', which is attached to the head noun to form a comitative NP ([phrase omitted] 1995 : 171; Nikolaeva 1999a : 53), while the possessor can be either pronominal (like in this model) or nominal/lexical (like in Model 3). It is thought that such use of the element is explained by its ability to convey the idea of involvement or partnership that is emphasized in the sentences. Consider the following examples:
(17) [phrase omitted]
that king man-PL-POSS.3SG take-PRS-SG.3SG and out gather-EP-PRS-SG.3SG
[phrase omitted]
that town what man village what man that people-PL-POSS.3SG
[phrase omitted]
companion-LOC homewards take-PRS-SG.3SG girl-SG.POSS.3SG foc
[phrase omitted] (Text 6, [section] 5, p. 25)
'The tsar took his people and put them out and he took the town lad,
the village lad together with his friends to himself, he got his
daughter ready to wed him'

(18) [phrase omitted]  (Text 10,
[section] 3, p. 32)
det woman-SG.POSS.3SG companion-LOC speak-PRS-EP-3DU
'This is how they talked'

(19) [phrase omitted]
three times walk-PTCP2-3SG from three elder:sister
[phrase omitted]
woman-EP-SG.POSS.3SG companion-LOC three times
[phrase omitted]
arrive-EP-DER.IPFV-DER.FREQ-EP-PST.3SG old:man nothing from
[phrase omitted]  (Text 10, [section] 4, p. 32)
'While she went the three times, the sisters came three times,
the old man knew nothing'

(20) [phrase omitted]
and det say-EP-PRS.3SG woman-SG.POSS.3SG say-EP-PRS.3SG 1pl-ep-pl dem
[phrase omitted]
ring-EP-ADJ.PRPR arm-ADJ.COM three woman iron-ADJ.PRPR plait-ADJ.COM
[phrase omitted]
three woman decorated coat-ADJ.COM three woman, say-EP-PRS.3SG
[phrase omitted]
1sg foc say-EP-PRS.3SG sister-PL-POSS.1SG companion-LOC
[phrase omitted]  (Text 10, [section] 4, p. 33)
'The wife said: It's us, three women with rings in our hands, three
women with iron plaits, three women in decorated fur coats, it's me
that came with the sisters'

(21) [phrase omitted]
woman-SG.POSS.3SG say-EP-PRS.3SG that-PL-POSS.3SG companion-LOC
[phrase omitted]
say-EP-PRS.3SG 1sg foc walk-PST-EP-1SG say-EP-PRS.3SG but 2sg
[phrase omitted]  (Text 10, [section] 3, p. 33)
say-EP-PRS.3SG neg find-PRS-SG.2SG say-EP-PRS.3SG
'His wife said: I also came with them. You didn't recognize me'

It can be inferred from these examples that the possessive suffix attached to the head noun does not convey the idea of possession, instead, it points to the more identifiable status of the referent.

The second type of adnominal possessive constructions is represented in a fewer number of cases and can be schematically represented by the following model:

Model 2. Double zero marking in NP (Juxtaposition)


In Model 2 both elements--the dependent and the head--are unmarked, which is common practice in possessive constructions with a lexical possessor (Nikolaeva 1999a : 52). Left juxtaposition, in this case, is seen as a sufficient means of encoding possessive relation, with the relator recoverable from the context. This means that it is the word order that determines the relations between the elements of an NP ([phrase omitted] 1995 : 164-165). Before we proceed to possessive structures, it should be noted that the most common type of semantic relations between the elements in the model in question can be defined as attributive (Examples 22-23), which is why such structures are excluded from our analysis.
(22) [phrase omitted]
short go-PST-EP-3DU long go-PST-EP-3DU reindeer herd
[phrase omitted]  (Text 22, [section] 8, p. 62)
'They went for a long or a short time and found a herd of reindeer'

(23) [phrase omitted]
one hand-PL-POSS.3SG-LOC seize-PRS-EP-3PL bitter water-ADJ.PRPR one
[phrase omitted] (Text 10, [section] 2, p. 32)
vessel one sweet water-ADJ.PRPR one stone vessel
'In one hand they carry a bottle with bitter water, in the other a
bottle with sweet water'

Possessive relations in the following constructions are less frequent and may encode the semantics of ownership and belonging (Examples 24-28):
(24) [phrase omitted]
dem town-LOC arrive-PRS-EP-3DU old:man house
[phrase omitted]  (Text 22, [section] 8, p. 62)
'So they go off to the city and look for the old man's house'

(25) [phrase omitted]
intj det det dem king servant people
[phrase omitted]
[phrase omitted] (Text 6, [section] 4, p. 25)
brother bring-PRS-PASS bring-PRS-PASS det
'The tsar's workers went and brought the young man. They brought him'

(26) [phrase omitted]  (Text 22, [section] 9, p. 62)
say-IMP-PL dem people-DU herd
'Say that this is the herd of those people'

(27) [phrase omitted]
that croak-PTCT1 animal town-LOC land male-DU town-LOC
[phrase omitted]  (Text 22, [section] 11, p. 63)
arrive-PST-EP-3DU that fox old:man-DU male cow-du
'Old man fox and old man bull arrived in the city of the snake
and old man mammoth'

(28) [phrase omitted]  (Text 3, [section] 2, p. 17)
det animal footstep-EP-PL find-EP-PST.3SG
'He found the tracks of wild animals'

The same structural type is found in the following constructions encoding the meaning of part-whole that are not treated as possessive by I. Nikolaeva (1999 : 53). Consider Examples (29-31):
(29) [phrase omitted]
that willow.grouse tree top-LOC birch top-LOC up
[phrase omitted]
sit-VBLZ.INCH-PRS and say-EP-PRS 1sg house-2SG neg prepare-PRS-SG.1SG
[phrase omitted] (Text 15, [section] 2, p. 36)
2sg although woman-2SG kill-PST-SG.2SG
'The willow grouse flew to the top of the tree, to the top of the birch
and said: I won't clean your house, even if you have killed your wife'

(30) [phrase omitted]
that man det king town road middle arrive-INF start-PST-EP-3PL and
[phrase omitted]
det from:there grow-INF tree-EP-PL from one go-CVB one smooth
[phrase omitted] (Text 6, [section] 2, p. 25)
tree make-EP-PST.3SG one board tree make-EP-PST.3SG
'The group got halfway to the tsar's, then he made smooth
poles from the young trees along the path and made boards'

(31) [phrase omitted]
village first-LOC be-DER.IPFV-PRS-EP-3DU town first-LOC
[phrase omitted]
be-DER.IPFV-PRS-EP-3DU poor person-DU det be-PRS-EP-3DU
[phrase omitted] (Text 3, [section] 1, p. 16)
'At the edge of the village, at the edge of the
town poor people lived. They lived and lived'

According to Nikolaeva (1995 : 168-169; 1999 : 52), NPs of this kind contain words that are incapable of functioning independently because they are semantically subservient to another concept. These elements are mostly spatial nouns such as [phrase omitted] 'side, half, something', [phrase omitted] 'middle', [phrase omitted] with a locative marker meaning 'in front of. These nouns are commonly used in attributive or possessive structures, in which their semantics is determined by an adjacent word.

Summing up, it can be inferred that Model 2 is rather better suited to convey an attributive relation in an NP than a possessive one since the latter is reduced to the meaning of ownership and belonging.

Similarly to Model 1, Model 2 can be built with multiple possessors (Examples 32-33). As a rule, they serve to describe some characteristics of the possessed.
(32) [phrase omitted] (Text 22, [section] 1, p. 60)
male fox old:man
'Old man fox'

(33) [phrase omitted]
alone be-PTCP1 house-LOC short be-PST.3SG long be-PST.3SG mind-LOC
[phrase omitted]
arrive-PRS-PASS 1sg det and friend have-PST-EP-1SG before male cow
[phrase omitted] (Text 22, [section] 1, p. 60)
friend old:man
'He lived alone at home for a long or a short time and thought: Once I
had a friend. My friend was old man bull'

Moreover, the first and the second types of adnominal constructions can combine with one another--Model 3.

Model 3. Combined Head and Double Zero Marking

[([.sup.Pr]dependent-NP).sub.possessor]--[.sup.N][dependent.sub.possessor] /[head.sub.possessor] +possessive suffix--[.sup.N]head-[NP.sub.possessed]

In this model, the marked head of the first construction becomes the possessor of the second (Examples 34-35).
(34) [phrase omitted] (Text 3, [section] 7, p. 18)
town-SG.POSS.1SG one end prepare-PRS-EP-1SG
'I'll give half of my city'

(35) [phrase omitted] (Text 10, [section] 4, p. 33)
kerchief-PL-POSS.3PL side open-PST-EP-PL-3PL intj
'They undid the edge of the kerchiefs--oh!'

The next type of adnominal possessive constructions is presented by Model 4:

Model 4. Head marking in NP

[.sup.N]dependent-[NP.sub.possessor]--[.sup.N]head-[NP.sub.possessor] +possessive suffix

In the following examples, the relationship between the modifier (possessor) and the head (the possessed) is coded by a possessive suffix attached to the head. Both the possessor and the possessed are nouns. Examples with this construction are not numerous, altogether 17 cases in the texts, and they encode the meaning of family relations (Examples 36-37), part-whole (Examples 38-39), physical ability (Example 40), body part (Example 41), belonging (Example 42):
(36) [phrase omitted]
old:man 3sg woman-SG.POSS.3SG three elder:sister
[phrase omitted] (Text 10, [section] 4, p. 33)
'They were the three sisters of the old man's wife'

(37) [phrase omitted]
INTJ long short be-PRS-EP-3PL once-EP-LOC herd-EP-ADJ.PRPR town man
[phrase omitted]
arrive-EP-PST.3SG that herd-EP-ADJ.PRPR town old:man
[phrase omitted]
girl-SG.POSS.3SG to male cow woman-SG.POSS.3SG to
[phrase omitted]  (Text 22, [section] 13, p. 63)
'They lived there for a long or a short time. All at once the man from
the rich city came to visit his daughter, old man bull's wife'

(38) [phrase omitted]
say-EP-DER.IPFV-PTCP1-3PL one stupid-EP-N bring-PST-1PL and det
[phrase omitted]
go-PTCP1-3SG along so say-EP-PRS.3SG raw tree if cut-PRS.-EP-1SG
[phrase omitted]
dry tree if cut-PRS-EP-1SG road go-ptcp1 quickly 3sg say-EP-PRS
[phrase omitted]
raw tree foc cut-EP-PST.3SG cut-EP-PST.3SG and there 2sg det
[phrase omitted]  (Text 6, [section] 4, p. 25)
road mouth-SG.POSS.2SG-LOC lie-PRS-EP-3PL
'They said: We took a fool along with us. On the way he kept saying: If
I chop fresh trees, if I chop dry trees, it will be quick going on the
path. He chopped a fresh tree, he chopped, there at the start of your
road they lie'

(39) [phrase omitted]
[phrase omitted]
find-PRS-EP-1SG that man say-EP-PRS.3SG 1sg say-EP-PRS.3SG
[phrase omitted]
thing-SG.POSS.2SG king town-2SG say-EP-PRS.3SG det town
[phrase omitted]
mouth-EP-SG.POSS.3SG say-EP-PRS.3SG fence-PL-POSS.3SG
[phrase omitted]  (Text 6, [section] 4, p. 25)
neg suffice-PRS-EP-3PL
'The man said: I know that in this tsar's town, at the entrance to the
town there are not enough fences'

(40) [phrase omitted]
land-EP-SG.POSS.3SG ahead dig-PRS-SG.1SG and 2sg inside from
[phrase omitted]
kick-FREQ-imp break-IMP two person power-SG.POSS.1DU-LOC
[phrase omitted] (Text 22, [section] 1, p. 60)
how opening make-PRS-EP-1DU
'I'll keep on digging the earth and you'll kick and thrust from inside.
With the strength of two persons we'll somehow make a hole'

(41) [phrase omitted]
those that-PL-POSS.3SG and say-DER.FREQ-EP-PRS-EP-3PL this indeed
[phrase omitted]
stupid neg how then 1pl horse arse-PL-POSS.3PL
[phrase omitted]  (Text 6, [section] 3, p. 25)
ahead harness-PRS-1PL
'And they said: He must be a fool, how shall we harness the horses
with their backs to the front?'

(42) pa  ur-na  jax-ti  nawrem  xon-l
and forest-LOC go-PTSP1 child stomach-SG.POSS.3SG
[phrase omitted] (Text 3, [section] 3, p. 17)
bear-EP-PTCP2-3SG and what-EP-LOC feed-PRS-SG.lDU
'The forest-going child's stomach is empty What shall we feed it?'

Similarly, possessive constructions with this model can occur with multiple possessors (Example 36) and with the post-positive element pil-na (see Example 19).

Judging from the semantics of the head noun, this model of adnominal possessive constructions tends to be useful for encoding inalienable possession.

The final type of adnominal possessive constructions found in the Obdorsk texts is built according to the following model:

Model 5. Complex marking

at + (possessive suffix)--[.sup.(N)]dependent-[NP.sub.possessor]--[.sup.N]head-[NP.sub.possessor] possessive suffix

What is specific to this type of constructions is that it incorporates the initial word at 'thing, object', which is also marked with a possessive suffix (Examples 43-44).0
(43) [phrase omitted]
bow-PL-POSS.3SG arrow-PL-POSS.3SG search-PTCP1-3SG from
[phrase omitted]
willow.grouse fly-EP-DER.FREQ-PRS.3SG go-PRS.3SG how.many seven
[phrase omitted]
glade through and thing-SG.POSS.3SG devil old:man-SG.POSS.3SG
[phrase omitted] (Text 15, [section] 2, p. 37)
so-trns empty:handed-TRNS remain:behind-PRS.3SG
'By the time he found a bow and arrow the willow grouse had flown off.
He flew through seven glades and the demon remained there with empty

(44) [phrase omitted]
[phrase omitted]
find-PRS-EP-1SG that man say-EP-PRS 1sg say-EP-PRS.3SG thing-SG.POSS.2SG
[phrase omitted]
king town-SG.POSS.2SG say-EP-PRS.3SG det town mouth-EP-SG.POSS.3SG
[phrase omitted]  (Text 6, [section]
4, p. 25)
say-EP-PRS.3SG fence-PL-POSS.3SG neg suffice-PRS-EP-3PL
'The man said: I know that in this tsar's town, at the entrance to the
town there are not enough fences'

Judging from the barely two examples (43-44) with this construction found in the texts, it can be inferred that the word at 'thing' is used in them as an emphatic means to draw attention to the possessive relations.

In summation, adnominal possessive constructions in Obdorsk can be built according to five models, among which Models 1 and 3 tend to be used to encode inalienable possession, while Model 2 is frequent in attributive phrases, and Model 4 has a combined structure.

Predicative possession

The most frequent predicative possessive construction in the Obdorsk dialect can be defined as syntactically transitive (according to Stassen 2013), which is built with the verb tajti 'have' (see also Honti 2008 : 164):

Model 6. Predicative transitive construction


As is seen from the linguistic data, the word order in the sentences may vary, for example, it can be either SOV or OSV, with the predicate always found in the final position. Consider Examples (45-51):
(45) [phrase omitted]  (Text 22, [section] 11, p. 63)
one thing det 1sg have-PRS-EP-1SG
'There's only one thing'

(46) [phrase omitted] (Text 22, [section] 12, p. 63)
3sg inside-3SG-LOC hollow have-PRS.3SG
'It's hollow on the inside'

(47) [phrase omitted]
same like iron-EP-ADJ.PRPR plait, same like ring-EP-ADJ.PRPR
[phrase omitted]
arm-ADJ.COM same like decorated coat-ADJ.COM
[phrase omitted] (Text 10, [section] 2, p. 32)
woman 1sg and have-PRS-EP-1SG
'I also have just such a woman with iron plait, just such a one with a
ring on her hand in a decorated fur coat'

(48) [phrase omitted] (Text 6, [section] 1, p. 24)
king three boy have-EP-PRS.3SG
'A tsar had three sons'

(49) [phrase omitted]
king have-EP-PRS.3SG work-PTCT1 boy work-PTCP1
[phrase omitted] (Text 6, [section] 1, p. 24)
boy sit-VBLZ.INCH-PTCT1 boy have-EP-PRS.3SG
'The tsar had a young man who worked, he rode on the team'

(50) [phrase omitted]
1pl how money have-PRS-1PL gold money have-PRS-1PL
[phrase omitted] (Text 6, [section] 1, p. 24)
silver money have-PRS-1PL
'We have money, golden money, and silver money'

(51) [phrase omitted]  (Text 3, [section] 5, p. 17)
1sg say-PTCP1-3SG 1sg forest-LOC herd have-PRS-EP-1SG
'I have a herd in the forest'

In the corpus of 5 texts (380 sentences), this construction was identified in 40 cases. The possessor is always explicit and can be expressed by a personal pronoun or a noun. The possessed, with regard to its semantics, can denote either a living being (woman, son, man, herd, daughter, friend), an object (money, town, house), or some feature (hollow, illness, laughter).

This pattern is also found in negative symmetrical constructions containing the negative particle an and/or the negative pronoun nemosa:
(52) [phrase omitted]
so be-DER.IPFV-PRS-EP-3DU nothing neg have-PRS-EP-3DU
[phrase omitted]
sleep-PTCT1 place neg have-PRS-EP-3DU nothing
[phrase omitted]
[phrase omitted]  (Text 3, [section] 1, p. 17)
neg have-PRS-EP-3DU so how det live-PRS-EP-3DU
'As they lived, they had nothing, they had no place to sleep, they had
nothing, they just lived'

(53) [phrase omitted]  (Text 3, [section] 5, p. 17)
before father-2SG neg have-EP-DER.IPFV-DER.FREQ-EP-PST.3SG
'Your grandfather had none earlier'

(54) [phrase omitted]
[phrase omitted]
money if money have-IMP.2SG 1sg money neg have-PRS-EP-1SG
pa mola wer? (Text 6, [section] 1, p. 24)
and what matter
'Then he said: If you have money and I have no money what difference
does it make?'

Have-constructions are also used in the future form which is built analytically:
(55) [phrase omitted]
child have-PTCT1 start-PRS-EP-3DU one woman
[phrase omitted]
say-EP-DER.IPFV-PTCP1-3SG 1sg dem child have-INF wretched
[phrase omitted]  (Text 3, [section] 1, p. 16)
'A baby was on its way, the wife said: I'm going to
have a baby'

(56) [phrase omitted]
old:man  say-EP-PRS.3G that holy gold child have-INF
[phrase omitted] (Text 3, [section] 1, p.
start-PRS-EP-1DU and what-LOC feed-PRS-EP-SG.1SG
'The husband said: My God! There's going to be a child, what shall I
feed it?'

Unlike the syntactically transitive habeo-constructions, a syntactically intransitive predicative possessive construction with the verb ulti 'to be' is a much rarer case in Obdorsk. As I. Nikolaeva has pointed out, such predicative possessive constructions are either locative or built with a possessed noun that is marked with a suffix (Nikolaeva 1999a : 42). In the corpus under study, we identified a few esse-constructions that contained some elements functioning in the semantic roles of possessor and possessed, while the predicate encoded the meaning of possession. Schematically, this type of constructions with the possessive meaning can be presented by the following Models.

Model 7. Intransitive predicative possessive construction

(57) [phrase omitted]  (Text 22, [section] 2, p. 60)
fox old:man say-EP-PRS.3SG money be-INF start-PRS.3SG
'Old man fox said: We'll have money'

(58) [phrase omitted]
very:much bride:price neg.ex money how say-EP-PRS.3SG
u -l (Text 22, [section] 3, p. 61)
'There is no brideal ransom, but there is money, he said'

Model 8. Intransitive predicative possessive construction with a marked head

([NP.sub.possessor)]--[NP.sub.possessor] +possessive suffix--[]
(59)  [phrase omitted] (Text 22, [section] 9, p. 62)
heart-EP-SG.POSS.3SG fat-LOC be-PRS.3SG
'His heart was covered with fat'

(60) [phrase omitted]
such say-EP-PRS.3SG inside-SG.POSS.3SG-LOC hollow-EP-PL
[phrase omitted]
be-DER.IPFV-DER.FREQ-EP-PRS.3SG and dem root have-EP-PRS.3SG and
[phrase omitted]
dig-PRS-EP-2SG if tree hollow inside-LOC enter-PRS-EP-2SG if cone tree
[phrase omitted] (Text 22, [section] 12, p. 63)
as:if tree 3sg when run-EP-TR-EP-PRS.3SG
'Trees like that are hollow and have roots. If you burrow into the
hollow of a tree like that, they won't disturb the larch'

(61) [phrase omitted]
father-POSS.1SG mother-POSS.1SG be-PTCP2-3PL from
[phrase omitted] (Text 3, [section] 6, p. 18)
work-EP-SG.POSS.3SG few be-PST.3SG
'While my father and mother lived, they had little

Possessive relations are also found in asymmetrical constructions with the negative existential verb antam 'not to be' and/or the negative pronoun nemosa:
(62) [phrase omitted] (Text 22, [section] 1, p. 60)
and 2sg out fall-PTCT1 strength-SG.POSS.2SG neg.ex
'Don't you have the strength to come out?'

(63) [phrase omitted]
woman not:be money not:be nothing
antam (Text 6, [section] 5, p. 25)
'[They had] no bride, no money, nothing at all'

(64) [phrase omitted]
nothing illness have-PTCT1 noise-EP-SG.POSS.1SG
antam (Text 22, [section] 2, p. 60)
'I have no illness at all'

(65) [phrase omitted]
dem so think-PRS.3SG dem child father-SG.POSS.1SG
[phrase omitted]
mother-SG.POSS.1SG so say-EP-DER.IPFV-DER.FREQ-EP-PST.3SG forest-LOC
[phrase omitted]
animal neg.ex fish neg.ex and forest-LOC animal-EP-PL
[phrase omitted]  (Text 3, [section] 4, p. 17)
'The youth thought: My parents say that there are no wild
animals in the forest, no fish, but it appears there
are wild animals and fish in the forest'

(66) [phrase omitted]
very:much bride:price neg.ex money how say-EP-PRS
u-l (Text 22, [section] 3, p. 61)
'There is no brideal ransom, but there is money, he said'

Another possibility to convey possessive relations in Obdorsk is to use a syntactically intransitive construction with the verb xajti 'remain':
(67) [phrase omitted]  (Text 22, [section] 7, p. 62)
how:many kopeck remain-PTCP2-3SG
'Only a few kopecks remained'

(68) [phrase omitted]
that herd-EP-PL quantity-EP-POSS.3SG-LOC male cow
[phrase omitted] (Text 22, [section] 14, p. 64)
towards remain-PST-EP-3PL
'All the herds remained old man bull's'

It should be noted that examples with the verb xajti 'remain are not at all numerous and are found, as a rule, in the final sentences of stories.


The study shows that in the of Obdorsk language the concept of possession is systematically encoded in adnominal and predicative possessive constructions alone, thus doing without any external possessive constructions.

Adnominal possession is structurally represented by five models. In all but one model the head is marked with a possessive suffix. The model with an unmarked head represents a case of juxtaposition, which is seen as a key way to convey attributive relations in an NP. The models with a marked head can be differentiated into nominal and pronominal models, and are preferred to encode inalienable possession. It is possible to build possessive adnominal constructions with multiple possessors, or combine them.

Apart from their primary function as markers of possessive relations, possessive suffixes can be used in a non-possessive sense, e.g. as markers of anaphoric reference, definiteness, associative possessiveness and identifiability.

Predicative possessive constructions are differentiated into syntactically transitive habeo-constructions and syntactically intransitive ones, while the latter can be built with the verbs 'to be', 'not to be' and 'to remain'. The core predicative possessive construction is the transitive one, in which the relator is encoded by the verb 'to have'. In such structures, the possessed is unmarked. Intransitive predicative possessive constructions are peripheral and the possessed may be marked with a possessive suffix.


The research was supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation (Grant No. 14.Y26.31.0014).

We are grateful to an anonymous reviewer whose invaluable comments and suggestions have enabled us to improve the quality of the paper.



Victoria Vorobeva

Tomsk Polytechnic University,

Tomsk State University


Telephone: +79528011787

Irina Novitskaya

Tomsk State University

Telephone: +79138202786


1--first person, 2--second person, 3--third person, ADJ--adjectivizer, CVB--converb, CAR--caritive affix, COM--comitative suffix, DEM--demonstrative, DER--derivational suffix, DET--determiner, DU--dual, FOC--focus, FREQ--frequentative suffix, INTJ--interjection, EP--epenthetic vowel, INCH--inchoative suffix, INF--infinitive, INTR--intransitivizer, IPFV--imperfective suffix, IMP--imperative, LOC--locative, N--noun, NEG--negative, NEG.EX--negative existential predicate, NP--noun phrase, PASS--passive, Pr--personal pronoun, PL--plural; PRPR--propriative affix, PTCP1--present participle, PTCP2--past participle, PST--past tense, POSS--possessive suffix, PRS--present tense; SG--singular; TRNS--translative, TR--transitivizer, VBLZ--verbalizer, VP--verbal phrase.


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[phrase omitted]

(1) The proceedings of the expedition to the Niznevartovsk district in July 2017 that was supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation (Grant No. 14.Y26.31.0014).

[phrase omitted]

[Please note: Some non-Latin characters were omitted from this article]
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Author:Vorob'jova, Viktoria; Novitskaja, Irina
Publication:Linguistica Uralica
Date:Jun 1, 2018
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