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Re: Good = Mine

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  • Alex Fink
    ... The etymology of English like itself (in the prefer sense) is a quasi-example of this: it s etymologically the same word as like similar to . The
    Message 1 of 8 , Jan 7, 2013
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      On Sun, 30 Dec 2012 01:50:22 -0500, Daniel Demski <dranorter@...> wrote:

      >I have noticed several people use the expression "that's my X" (movie,
      >song) to indicate liking X. I think this could an emerging expression, or
      >maybe it's not new but not from my area (both people I've heard use it were
      >from Detroit). But outside of that the English language sometimes uses
      >ownership in place of goodness anyway; for example in "this is just not my
      >day" (or the less frequent "this is gonna be my day"). Do many languages do
      >this?

      The etymology of English "like" itself (in the 'prefer' sense) is a quasi-example of this: it's etymologically the same word as "like" 'similar to'. The sense development goes something like 'be similar to' > 'be suitable for' > 'be pleasing to'; the verb used to take the thing liked in nominative and the liker in dative, until that started to seem quirky and it was reshaped after English's general lack of quirky subjects. Seems close enough precedent for pulling the same trick on a verb meaning originally 'belong to'.

      To continue the YA*UTery, I'm not aware that I make your extension specially much. But I have been caught making a dissimilar extension, using "your X" to mean nothing more than 'the X that you mentioned' (... as in the 'your extension' in the last sentence, I suppose, though that's also interpretable as 'the extension that you want to put into your conlang' so it's not a clear-cut example.)

      >Now, these types of expressions are helped along by the relative rarity of
      >owning things like days or songs, but I can't help but wonder; what if in
      >some language ownership were the only way of expressing preference or
      >goodness?

      Seems to me this might work best in a culture where there wasn't much in the way of individual ownership of goods, so that e.g. "my axe" stripped of meaning 'the axe I own' is then fairly pragmatically open to mean 'of the community's axes, the one I generally use' -- and I probably use it most because I prefer it. Perhaps this is dodging your intent?

      Though even doing that, a hard residue of cases are the sorts of things that are (typically) inalienably possessed: I might have a gimp leg and a nogoodnik of a brother, but they're mine in senses that (typically) transcend simple social convention. I suppose one could try to stretch a construction like your "nobody's leg" to it, but maybe there's something cleverer. Though maybe for kin, the best solution is just to forget that that's usually inalienable, and posit that the culture really does get along with everyone disowning their relatives left and right, so that "he's no longer my brother" could be literally true, at least at the most relevant level of social interaction. (And then, you know, establish some pattern of composite expressions "brother by birth" or whatnot for being clear that the preference reading is being stripped out.)

      Ah, and another tricky cases are nouns with inherent negative valence, "problem", "fault", etc. Can nothing be my problem, or my fault?

      For what it's worth, if you dò think that I was dodging your intent I'd like to encourage you to think less so. People tend to consider ownership as the prototypical use of the genitive construction, and that fact certainly shouldn't be pooh-poohed, but to my eye it's at least not very _central_ to the cloud of senses: what feels closer to me is simply general association, or something like 'having as a property' (you know, as shows up in "my height"). I find it much less forced to see ownership as a specialised use of something like this than to reverse it and posit 'the height that the table _owns_ is 32 inches' as the metaphor at the root of 'the table's height is 32 inches'.

      Alex
    • Jim Henry
      ... There are other ways to express those things: this situation is hurting/annoying me , I caused that bad situation , etc. ... prototypical use of the
      Message 2 of 8 , Jan 8, 2013
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        On Mon, Jan 7, 2013 at 11:06 PM, Alex Fink <000024@...> wrote:
        > Ah, and another tricky cases are nouns with inherent negative valence, "problem", "fault", etc. Can nothing be my problem, or my fault?

        There are other ways to express those things: "this situation is
        hurting/annoying me", "I caused that bad situation", etc.

        > For what it's worth, if you dò think that I was dodging your intent I'd like to encourage you to think less so. People tend to consider ownership as the
        prototypical use of the genitive construction, and that fact certainly
        shouldn't be pooh-poohed, but to my eye it's at least not very
        _central_ to the cloud of senses:
        what feels closer to me is simply general association, or something
        like 'having as

        That makes sense to me, too. Certainly the genitive in most of the
        languages I've familiar with has many senses other than ownership, and
        I shouldn't be surprised if a corpus analysis showed the ownership
        sense to be less common than some of the others, or at least less
        common than all the others put together.

        --
        Jim Henry
        http://www.pobox.com/~jimhenry/
        http://www.jimhenrymedicaltrust.org
      • And Rosta
        ... [...] ... In my analysis, the syntactic possessor is subject of the possessum . In one subconstruction the possessor subject is semantically just an
        Message 3 of 8 , Jan 8, 2013
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          Alex Fink, On 08/01/2013 04:06:
          > To continue the YA*UTery, I'm not aware that I make your extension
          > specially much. But I have been caught making a dissimilar extension,
          > using "your X" to mean nothing more than 'the X that you mentioned'
          > (... as in the 'your extension' in the last sentence, I suppose,
          > though that's also interpretable as 'the extension that you want to
          > put into your conlang' so it's not a clear-cut example.)
          [...]
          > Though even doing that, a hard residue of cases are the sorts of
          > things that are (typically) inalienably possessed: I might have a
          > gimp leg and a nogoodnik of a brother, but they're mine in senses
          > that (typically) transcend simple social convention. I suppose one
          > could try to stretch a construction like your "nobody's leg" to it,
          > but maybe there's something cleverer. Though maybe for kin, the best
          > solution is just to forget that that's usually inalienable, and posit
          > that the culture really does get along with everyone disowning their
          > relatives left and right, so that "he's no longer my brother" could
          > be literally true, at least at the most relevant level of social
          > interaction. (And then, you know, establish some pattern of
          > composite expressions "brother by birth" or whatnot for being clear
          > that the preference reading is being stripped out.)
          >
          > Ah, and another tricky cases are nouns with inherent negative
          > valence, "problem", "fault", etc. Can nothing be my problem, or my
          > fault?
          >
          > For what it's worth, if you dò think that I was dodging your intent
          > I'd like to encourage you to think less so. People tend to consider
          > ownership as the prototypical use of the genitive construction, and
          > that fact certainly shouldn't be pooh-poohed, but to my eye it's at
          > least not very _central_ to the cloud of senses: what feels closer to
          > me is simply general association, or something like 'having as a
          > property' (you know, as shows up in "my height"). I find it much
          > less forced to see ownership as a specialised use of something like
          > this than to reverse it and posit 'the height that the table _owns_
          > is 32 inches' as the metaphor at the root of 'the table's height is
          > 32 inches'.

          In my analysis, the syntactic 'possessor' is subject of the 'possessum'. In one subconstruction the possessor subject is semantically just an intrinsic argument of the possessum predicate (which covers all those exx you give). In the other subconstruction, the possessor subject is semantically possessor-beneficiary of the possessum predicate. You won't be surprised that I've not yet found time to write it up into a paper, but there's a conference handout on it at
          <https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B223OeOg5j3yNUhxNjUxZU5Bd1k>.

          (Although the conference paper doesn't touch on this, I would take possessive 's to be a phonological exponent of a generic auxiliary, identical to the 's in _She's a genius_ and _She's been spoken of".)

          --And.
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