[Topic map of possession in Taruven]


Entities (animata) are not possessable but can be connected to other entities by the connecting particle te. Only entities can be connected to eachother.

Connection entails that the parties are of equal status.

te is an axis-word.

    1. ī te gav
      ī       te gav
      ī       te gav
      his/her    dog
      he/she has a dog, he/she and his/her dog
      [[ī]NP te [gav]NP]NP
    2. * o te gav
      o   te gav
      o   te gav
      its    dog
      [[o]NP te [gav]NP]NP

Implicit connectee

The leftmost word of a connection can be dropped, and is then understood to implicitly mark 1st person connectee, number unmarked.

    1. te gav
      te     gav
      te     gav
      my/our dog
      [te [gav]NP]NP
    2. mirrōen vyxann te vynne gavaþ
      mirrōen    vyxann   te vynne gavaþ
      mirrō -en  vyxann   te vynne gav -aþ
      the cats   surround my small dog
    3. mirrōen vyxann teaþ vynne gav
      mirrōen    vyxann   teaþ   vynne gav
      mirrō -en  vyxann   te -aþ vynne gav
      the cats   surround my     small dog

As examples 2b) and c) shows, te can take on all shared affixes.

Alienable vs. inalienable

All groupings
All entities
Blood relations
First name


Only inanimate nouns can be alienably possessed, and these are suffixed with -eð.

Possessive pronouns

Possessive pronouns are only used with alienable possessees.

Derived possessors
Number1st person2nd person3rd person animate3rd person inanimate
High register, fused possessors
Number1st person2nd person3rd person animate3rd person inanimate

The table of possessed pronouns is somewhat simple, since inanimate nouns cannot normally be any other person than third. Leftmost is the derived pronoun, rightmost is the fused, high register pronoun, if any.

Alienable possessees
Number3rd person inanimate
    1. gav yélla
      house of the dog, the dog's house
    2. gav den
      they belong to the dog
    3. yf den
      they're his/hers
    4. oév zin
      those few belong to it

Since there is no ambiguity and both words are marked for the same case, they can come in any order, anywhere in the clause as usual.

Implicit possessor

The implicit possessor of alienably possessed Ns depend on its case:
Agent1st person
Patient3rd person animate
Benefactor3rd person, different from all the other 3rd persons
Instrument3rd person, different from all the other 3rd persons
Location3rd person, different from all the other 3rd persons
    1. bren
      bren -eð
      car  -GEN
      my car, the car is mine
    2. ypharra breneðaþ
      ypharra          breneðaþ
      y- phar    -ra   bren -eð  -aþ
      3  destroy -PAST car  -GEN -PAT
      his/her car was destroyed
    3. den
      I own some stuff (plural), they're mine, these/those belong to me
    4. tšiev var breneð, ypharara den
      my friend's blue car, it was utterly destroyed

It is unlikely that an alienably possessed pronoun is ever a subject, but they are useful as answers to questions as in 5a) or in a copula as in b) to g):

    1. Q: ēišeth
      A: oeð, ïoeðe
      mine, ALL MINE!
    2. kiar fōeð vynne, aò var oeð gealara
      my red cup is small, and/but my blue one was bigger
    3. [...], aò yf var oédh gealara
      [...], and/but his/her blue one was bigger
    4. [...], aò yf oédh vareð gealara
      [...], and/but his/her blue one was bigger
    5. [...], aò var yf oédh gealara
      [...], and/but the one belonging to the blue person/thing was bigger
    6. [...], aò yf oédh var(ev) gealara
      [...], and/but the one belonging to the blue person/thing was bigger
    7. [...], aò varev oédh gealara
      [...], and/but the one belonging to the blue person/thing was bigger

Examples 5c) to f) shows a stative modifying the pronouns: the possessee in c) and d), and the possessor in e) and f). Examples c) and e) shows implicit agreement while d) and f) shows explicit agreement. Example 5g) is a less clumsy variant of 5e) and f).


Inalienable possession is for things that cannot change possessor. Your arm is still your arm even if it has been amputated and is in a display-case, and a real arm in a display-case once was part of someone even if that someone is long dead. Assuming that time travel cannot change the past, but only fork off a new parallell reality, then your blood relatives will always remain your blood relatives.

Pronominal possessor

The possessor and possessee are combined into a compound.

Inalienable possessor pronominal preclitics
1st person2nd person3rd person
    1. tšan
      sü-     tšan
      my/our  child
    2. urū
      sü-     tšan
      my/our  child
    3. jar
      vï-   jar
      your  arm
    4. yjar
      y-                 jar
      his/her/its/their  arm

Nominal possessor

When the possessor is a noun, the particle binds the possessor and possessee into the compound.

    1. faìtšan
      faì     jï  tšan
      parent  's  child
    2. faìurū
      faì     jï  urū
      parent  's  head

It should be noted that in example 6), the stress can never be moved further left than the . In fact, stress will be on the if the possessee is a one-syllable word or contains no long syllables. In some dialects the possessee will have a secondary stress in the usual position if longer than two syllables, this is known as weak (actually little ), vüjïvun.

Missing possessor

It is not so that there must be an explicit possessor. It is always understood that there is something or someone that the possessee belongs to.

    1. thalla kīraþan
      thalla kīraþan
      thalla kīr  -aþ  -an  
      1.wash hand -PAT -DL
      "I/we wash my/our (own) hands"
    2. ī thalla kīraþan
      ī  thalla kīraþan
      ī  thalla kīr  -aþ  -an  
      3s wash   hand -PAT -DL
      "He/she washes his/her (own) hands"
    3. ī thalla ykīraþan
      ī  thalla ykīraþan
      ī  thalla y-    kīr  -aþ  -an  
      3s wash   3poss hand -PAT -DL
      "He/she washes somebody elses hands"
    4. þandu ëthallašeŋŋ kīraþan
      þandu            ëthallašeŋŋ        kīraþan
      þan       -du    ë-   thalla -šeŋŋ  kīr -aþ -an  
      1.sibling -young not- wash   -want  hand -PAT -DL
      "My younger sibling doesn't want to wash his/her (own) hands"

If the possessee is not the subject, the implicit owner is the subject, as is the case in all of example 8 but c) above. If the possessee is a subject, the owner is the speaker, and thus in most cases 1st person, as in example 8d).


Because possessor and possessee are compounded, something interesting happens: which of the two stems are affected by affixing, adjectives etc.?

    1. faìjïurūvunin
      (faì    jï  (urū  -vun))  -in
      parent  's  head  -DIM    -QL
      "the parent's small heads"
    2. faìvunðejïurū
      faì     (-vun  -ðe)  jï  urū
      parent  -DIM   -all  's  head
      "the heads of all the small parents"
    3. ïfaìjïurū
      ï-     (faì    jï  urū)
      EMPH-  parent  's  head
      "the parent's HEAD, as opposed to something else"
    4. firr faìjïurū
      /firː fɑ͡iˈjʉrʉː/
      firr  faìjïurū
      firr  (faì    jï  urū)
      cold  parent  's  head
      "the parent's cold head"
    5. aìdžeqgevaðejïjargalma
      aì-    ((džeqge  -va    -ðe) jï  (jar  -gal  -ma))
      none-  tourist   -wild  -all 's  hand  -AUG  -good
      "none of the big good hands of all of the wild tourists"

Note that in example 9a) how the plural-marker chosen is the paucal/quintal and not the generic plural. This is because the generic plural strongly implies alienability. By using the generic plural instead, one would imply that the small heads of the parents are no longer connected to their respective necks.

In example 9b) it is the possessor that is affected. In this particular case using -ðe means basically the same thing as using the paucal/quintal, and using -ðe was a stylistic choice, preventing a double dose of Cn-rhymes and serving as an example of disharmony.

Example 9c) shows that all prefixes on the compound affects the the head of the compound. This does mean that if it is necessary to emphasize or otherwise prefix the possessor, it is not possible to use an inalienability-construction. Instead one must use one of the two other strategies: if the possessee is animate, with te, if not, with -eð. This is also the case with standalone adjectives, as shown in the last to final example, 9d).

To sum up: the connects two core nouns, and not two bare nouns.

Recursion and suffixaufnahme of possessive-markers

    1. džeqgejïurūjïtsū
      (džeqge jï urū) jï tsū  
      tourist's  head 's eye
      "the eye of the head of the tourist"
    2. džeqge te gav te mirrō
      džeqge  te gav te mirrō
      džeqge  te gav te mirrō
      tourist 's dog 's cat
      "the tourist with the dog with the cat"
    3. ... džeqgaþev brenaþeð sïareðeðaþ
      džeqgaþev        brenaþeð       sïareðeðaþ
      džeqge  -aþ -ev  bren -aþ -eð   sïar  -eð   -eð  -aþ
      tourist PAT POSS car  PAT POSS  color POSS  POSS PAT
      "the color of the car of the tourist"