WHEN IS THE POSSESSOR AN ARGUMENT?
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This paper tries to find out in which cases the possessive attribute is to be taken as an (obligatory) argument of its head noun. Determining what counts as an optional argument in this case is especially troublesome. Possessor arguments can be seen in various perspectives, concerning different word classes in each case. The author first discusses characteristics of semantic government and classifies relevant items in terms of their major properties. Synonymy with adverbial arguments is another criterion of determining possessor arguments. In the course of exploring syntactic government, the author comes to the conclusion that subject-based possessors are not obligatory lexical arguments with respect to nouns in -as/-es or -sag/-seg; and even possessive attributes derived from obligatory direct objects, traditionally taken to be lexical arguments, need not obligatorily occur in a possessor role. However, for that lack of overt occurrence to apply, certain syntactic criteria have to be met. Finally, cases of morphological government are discussed. The items belonging here are primarily classified in terms of formal criteria. The author argues that it is not the case that all word forms involving a third-person singular possessive suffix have to cooccur with a possessor argument, that is, government and agreement have to be distinguished. In sum, she claims that the main criteria of defining possessor arguments cover semantics, syntax, and morphology alike. As a main property, the argument status of possessive attributes is three-level or three-pole; nevertheless, this does not mean that these are exclusive criteria; rather, they provide some kind of distinctive trait.
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