Split inalienable coding in linguistic Wallacea

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This paper is a typological survey of adnominal possesssive constructions in the linguistic area of Wallacea (Schapper 2015). In a sample of 185 Austronesian and non-Austronesian languages spoken in Wallacea and its surrounds, it is shown that 21 languages have a phenomenon here referred to as ‘split inalienable coding’: two or more coding strategies associated with the expression of permanent, inherent possessive re- lationships. Geographically, all 21 of these languages are located within Wallacea. The genetic diversity of the languages with split inalienables, as well as the apparent infre- quency of the phenomenon worldwide, indicates that this may be an additional feature of the Wallacea linguistic area. It is suggested that the presence of split inalienable cod- ing in the non-Austronesian languages of the area has a somewhat deep time depth, but that the Austronesian languages have developed the feature much more recently, in multiple independent contact events.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLanguage Typology and Universals: STUF – Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Feb 2022


  • alienability
  • attributive possession
  • inalienable possession
  • language contact
  • language typology
  • multiple causation
  • parallel developments


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