Definitely Not Possessed? Possessive Suffixes with Definiteness Marking Function

  • Doris GerlandEmail author
Part of the Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 94)


In this paper I argue that the definiteness marking function of the possessive suffix of some Uralic languages is not the outcome of a grammaticalization pathway but has always been inherent to them. The possessive suffix has thus two main functions: establishing a relation between entities or a relation between an entity and the discourse and indicating the definiteness of the referent of the marked noun. The interpretation of the suffix as a marker of definiteness or a marker of possession depends on the conceptual noun type of the marked noun and on the context.


Concept types Grammaticalization Uralic languages Definiteness Possession 

















Epenthetic vowel






















Objective conjugation






Participium passivum








Subjective conjugation



The research for this article was supported by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) grant Research Unit FOR 600 “Functional Concepts and Frames”. I would like to thank Christian Horn, Sebastian Löbner, Albert Ortmann and Melani Wratil for discussion, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Linguistics and Information ScienceHeinrich Heine University DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany

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