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Title: Possession in Lelepa, a language of Central Vanuatu
Authors: Lacrampe, Sebastien
Keywords: Austronesian Languages
Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian Languages
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: University of the South Pacific
Abstract: This thesis studies possession in Lelepa, a language from the Oceanic subgroup of Austronesian, spoken in Central Vanuatu. Investigating this particular feature of the language was achieved by collecting original data from Lelepa speakers. Language data is presented in the form of interlinearised examples taken from a corpus of texts and elicitation notes. Data was collected between 2006 and 2008 during fieldtrips to Lelepa and Mangaliliu. The core of the study is devoted to the possessive system of Lelepa. Like many other Oceanic languages, Lelepa has direct and indirect possessive constructions. This thesis shows that the direct possessive construction formally consists of a possessed noun to which a possessor suffix attaches. It encodes possession of semantic domains such as body parts, body products, reference kinship terms, items closely associated to the possessor and parts of wholes. Indirect possession is expressed by two distinct subtypes: the free and construct indirect constructions. The free indirect construction has pronominal possessors only, encoded by two distinct pronoun paradigms: general and part-whole possession pronouns. The former pronouns are used for possession of items that normally do not occur in the direct construction, and the latter are used for possession of parts of wholes. The construct indirect construction is characterised by the occurrence of either of two construct suffixes, -n or -g. The -n construct indirect construction has pronominal and nominal possessors, and the same semantic scope as the direct construction. The -g construct indirect construction has nominal possessors only, and the same semantic scope as the free indirect construction with general possession pronouns. This study also demonstrates that free variation between two possessive constructions, the direct construction and the -n construct indirect construction with pronominal possessors, occur in the language, although more work is needed to determine the scope of this feature.
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