A quick little look at an important part of Rawàng Ata: how it deals with possession. As you’ll quickly realise, it’s heavily Austronesian – I originally just headed in a direction that made sense, and then I discovered that much of it was word-for-word the same as you’d get from a Micronesian language, so I just went with it. As a result, it’s not stunningly original; on the other hand, there’s not a lot of Micronesian flavour in most conlangs, so perhaps some people might be interested in seeing it. I suspect that changes will be made, but here’s a start.
I’m thinking this will be in three parts. Here’s the first.
Rawàng Ata has six main possessive structures: direct, indirect, locative absolute, appositive, vertive, and dualist.
Direct possession comes in three flavours. In all cases, the possessum is modified with a possessive prefix; the possessor then follows in the ergative, accusative or direct case. This distinction is frequently neutralised by dropping the possessor altogether. In general the accusative indicates particular emphasis is being placed on the possessor, while the ergative stresses the distance between possessor and possessum, and the direct (the default) encourages the two to be considered in close connexion. On occasion, the possessor may be in the prolative case – this emphasises that a part-to-adjacent-part relation is intended.
Nouns may follow any of four possessive declensions. In practice, some nouns may irregularly combine declensions, or else may be found in different forms in different dialects, contexts, or from different speakers. The first declension is very regular; the second and third are broadly regular; the fourth is highly irregular.
|IV (1st inclusive plural)||wa-
As a general rule, dependent nouns (which cannot occur without a possessive prefix) are always found in the fourth declension (in the case of mereological, regular or anomalous possession) or the third declension (in the case of agentive possession), although some agentives may be found with elements of the second declension. Independent nouns, if possessed, are generally in the first or second declensions – in general, older words, more commonly used words, and more commonly possessed nouns, take the second declension, while loanwords, more recent derivations, nouns less commonly possessed, and words less commonly used take the first declension.
It should be noted that in addition to declension-mixing irregularities, and complex and defunct morphophonemic alternations, some words, particularly in the fourth declension, use suppletion in certain persons. This, for instance, is the declension of –kutui:
|IV (1st inclusive plural)||fùrnuti|
Direct possession is employed to indicate:
– (mereological) the relation of part to whole (sail to ship; hand to human; wolf to pack; river to tributary)
– (mereological) the relation of whole to part (ship to sail; human to hand; pack to wolf)
– (mereological) the relation of part to adjacent part (sail to deck; forearm to elbow)
– (mereological) the relation of a new being to a being of which it was once a part (child to parent; landslide to mountain; urine to animal; tributary to river (‘time’ in this sense flows along rivers upstream)
– (mereological) the relation of a being to a new being that was once part of it (parent to child; mountain to landslide; animal to urine)
– (agentive) the relation of a noun signifying the concrete form of a process to one that is altered by the process, or which benefits from the process (support beam to house; wing to bird; sustenance to animal; malleta to gong; consumer to consumed; fire to fuel)
– (agentive) the relation of a creator to their creation (scribe to a document; builder to building)
– (agentive) the relation of a perpetrator of an action to the victim of that action if the victim benefits from or in some way consented to or orchestrated the action (killer to willing murder-victim; thief to willing robbery-victim)
– (regular) the relation of two objects deeply connected in function, as though two parts of one thing (animal and den; day and night; man and fishing-hook; woman and stiletto)
– (regular) the relation of a creation to its creator (writing to scribe; building to builder)
– (regular) the relation of an intimate or sexual item to its user (undergarments, sex toys, piercings, tattoos, penis rings, etc)
– (regular) the relation of a thing that comes into close physical contact with its user (clothes, jewellary, sleeping mats, etc)
– (regular) enduring psychological characteristics
– (anomalous) a relation of possession where the possessum ought to be, should be, is to be, is meant to be, possessed by the possessor
– (anomalous) a relation of possession where the possessum is certainly, must logically be, is surely, can only be, must therefore be, possessed by the possessor
– (anomalous) a relation of possession where the possessum is known first-hand to be, has been seen first-hand to be, possessed by the possessor.
Mereological, agentive and regular possession are almost entirely lexical – a certain noun is or is not to be directly possessed by a certain other noun. [An exception to this is that agentive relations do not trigger direct possession if the ‘possessor’ is affected negatively by them and has no control over the situation – a killer is ‘owned’ by their victim if the victim wanted to be killed, but not if they did not; likewise a wing is ‘owned’ by the bird, but a tumour or a diseased lung is not. A second exception is that things that take direct possession because they typically come into close physical contact with the owner do not take always take direct possession if they are not at that time being worn/used]. Anomalous possession, as the name suggests, is applied for semantic purposes wherever the speaker wishes it to be applied, to almost any noun.
Certain nouns, however, can never under any circumstances be directly possessed. This category includes most – though not all – words for humans, as well as some nouns for supernaturally animate forces (mostly weather conditions), some mass nouns (mostly metals), and some other words for particular plants and animals.