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Indicating possession

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Indicating possession

Postby Einhard » Tue Oct 06, 2009 10:24 pm

"Habere" is generally used to indicate possession of one kind or another, but in Lingua Latina, I notice that another method is used, namely the subject is placed in the dative and "sum" is used as the verb. Thus "Marco una soror est". Is this usage widespread? And am I write in saying that it is formed by merely substituting the dative and sum?
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Re: Indicating possession

Postby adrianus » Wed Oct 07, 2009 1:39 am

Einhard wrote:Is this usage widespread? And am I write in saying that it is formed by merely substituting the dative and sum?
That's right on both counts.//Rectè undiquè dicis.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Indicating possession

Postby ptolemyauletes » Fri Oct 09, 2009 9:47 am

Latin commonly says 'To Marco there is a sister.'
It is called a Dative of possession.
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Re: Indicating possession

Postby oberon » Sat Oct 10, 2009 12:42 am

There are, in general, three ways to indicate possession in latin (or greek). The genitive, dative (in mihi est constructions) and the verb "to have." The proto-language from which latin and greek are both derived from lacked a verb for have, and each language (e.g. Hittite, Sanskrit, Old Irish, Gothic, Latin, Greek, etc) developed a verb seperately. Both Latin and Greek metaphorically mapped the concept of "holding" (greek echo, latin habeo) onto the conceptualization of possession.

The lack of a verb for possession in proto-indo-european has led many linguists to theorize that at one point the proto-language was typologically "active/stative" in structure, meaning it lacked transitivity as a feature. As "to have" is by its very nature transitive, an "active" language could not have such a verb. A common way for active languages to express possession is through a stative verb like (to be) and matching an inanimate noun with an animate (e.g. latin manus mihi est). The dative of possession is seen as a syntactic remnant from the "active" stage of pre-indo-european. On this topic, see especially Lehmann's The Theoretical Bases for Indo-European Linguistics, Bauer's Archaic Syntax in Indo-European: The Spread of Transitivity from Latin to French, Gamkrelidze & Ivanov's Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans, Drinka's chapter in Language change and typological variation "Alignment in Early Proto-Indo-European," and various papers by Lehmann and Klimov.
Last edited by oberon on Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Indicating possession

Postby ptolemyauletes » Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:35 pm

That is interesting, Oberon. Thanks.
I would also add possessive adjectives.
liber meus est.
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Re: Indicating possession

Postby oberon » Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:04 pm

ptolemyauletes wrote:
I would also add possessive adjectives.


Great point. I can't believe I forgot that one. It just about the most common way in english.
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Re: Indicating possession

Postby Scribo » Tue Oct 20, 2009 3:54 pm

Yeah, If I recall correctly Latin has three methods of showing possession.

1) The use of the genitive (obviously), filias Agricolae (the daughters of the farmer)
2) The use of the dative, est femina mihi (there is to me a women)
3) Pronouns, which agree with the thing being possessed. Meus mensa (my table)

Now as to when and where you use them, I think it's a case of one using the genitive when it can be held, like a table or a person, but the dative being used for stuff you can't hold? I think the third is common for things like books etc. I don't know, I don't have my grammar to hand and I'm currently immersed in Greek...
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