From Aikhenvald & Dixon _Possession and Ownership_ (2013) Section 2.4.3:
"Inalienably possessed nouns cannot occur on their own. They are, in a
sense, 'obligatorily' possessed and can be considered 'bound'. A
number of languages have a special way of creating free nouns out of
such bound forms."

The section then goes on to discuss Hixkaryana, Koyukon, and many
Arawak languages.

This book is in the LCS Library and available for checkout by LCS members.

On Mon, Mar 14, 2016 at 8:15 AM, Jeffrey Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I am now curious whether that are any natlangs whose grammar has
> "obligatory dispossession of inalienably possessed nouns". The only natlang
> I know which marks alienability, Hawaiian, does not "dispossess" the nouns.
> Even if you sell your house (marked as inalienable on the possessive
> particle, because in traditional Hawaiian culture, houses/homesteads could
> not be sold; they passed from father to son/heir; but today one can indeed
> sell a house), there is no change in the marking. A house is syntactically
> inalienable always, even though it may be semantically alienable. It seems
> that the dispossession of an inalienably possessed object would be a rather
> rare occurrence (how many times can you lose your head?). That is why I am
> curious if any natlangs do this.
> Jeffrey
> On Mon, Mar 14, 2016 at 1:44 AM, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets <
> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> On 14 March 2016 at 02:41, David Peterson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> > That second example is ambiguous. All it says is that one is lacking a
>> > dispossessed head: it doesn't say WHOSE dispossessed head one is lacking.
>> >
>> >
>> In my new language Haotyétpi, which also has obligatory possessed nouns (I
>> call them "inalienably possessed nouns"), one cannot make such a noun
>> dispossessed. The closest one can do (and indeed does) is to mark the
>> possessor as third person indefinite ("something's/someone's"), to indicate
>> that the possessor is irrelevant/unknown.
>> So "a pile of heads" in Haotyétpi would probably be translated as _ossén
>> coré_: "a great many heads" (without the indefinite possessive suffix
>> _-(s)e_, the phrase would become _ossén cór_: "a great many of their
>> heads", implying possessors that have already been mentioned or are known
>> by context). One could also say _yussú coré_: "many heads", but using
>> _yussú_ implies that one can still easily count how many heads there are,
>> which, to me at least, is not quite what one means when they say "a pile of
>> heads". _Ossén_ implies that something that is normally countable might as
>> well be uncountable, due to sheer number (_yussú kár_ is just "many
>> people". _Ossén kár_ is "a sea of people, a large crowd).
>> As for "headless" or "lacking a head", there are various ways to handle
>> that. _Coré saprú_ means "without someone's head", from the verb _sáp_: "to
>> lack" together with the adverbial suffix _-ru_: "while ...+ing". It
>> implies, naturally, that the person is normally walking around with some
>> head hanging from their belt, and they're missing it. If they were missing
>> their own head, _cór saprú_: "without his/her/their head" would do it,
>> although it would be ambiguous between whether one is missing their own
>> head or somebody else's head, who's known from context or has been
>> mentioned before (as in English basically). If you really want to say
>> "headless, without one's own head", the easiest way would be to use the
>> verb _corsáp_: "to be headless, to lack one's head", formed by noun
>> incorporation.
>> And yes, talking about piles of heads and headless beings is quite
>> important indeed :P.
>> > Sent from my iPhone
>> >
>> > > On Mar 13, 2016, at 6:17 PM, Sylvia Sotomayor <[log in to unmask]>
>> > wrote:
>> > >
>> > > I am working on a grammar for a new language (looks a bit like the
>> > > previous one) and I just found myself writing: "Obligatorily possessed
>> > > nouns can become dispossessed by appending =yo to the noun, as in
>> > > pe=lene sono=yo (COLL=pile head=dispossessed) ‘a pile of heads’. An
>> > > obligatorily possessed noun must first be dispossessed before it can
>> > > be lacking: sono=yo=tepe (head=dispossessed=lacking) ‘without a
>> > > head’." because it is so very important to be able to talk about
>> > > headless beings and piles of heads. :-)
>> > >
>> > > -S
>> > >
>> > > --
>> > > Sylvia Sotomayor
>> > >
>> > > The sooner I fall behind the more time I have to catch up.
>> >
>> --
>> Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
>> President of the Language Creation Society (
>> Personal Website:
>> Personal Tumblr:

Sylvia Sotomayor

The sooner I fall behind the more time I have to catch up.