Possessed Nouns

A subset of nouns are considered to be obligatorily possessed. This means that use a pronominal clitic in place of a classifier. Obligatorily possessed nouns can be rational or non-rational. Rational obligatorily possessed nouns are all kinship terms. Non-rational obligatorily possessed nouns are human and animal body parts, plant parts, and a few other things.

Examples: a=ma sono (SG=3S head) ‘his/her head’ uses the pronominal clitic ma (third person singular). Likewise em=ma tiyi (DU=3S sister) ‘his/her two sisters’. 

Obligatorily possessed nouns can become unpossessed by appending =ya to the noun, as in pe=lene sono=ya (COLL=pile head=unpossessed) ‘a pile of heads’. An obligatorily possessed noun must first be unpossessed before it can be lacking: sono=ya=tepe (head=unpossessed=lacking) ‘without a head’ or tiyi=ya=tepe (sister=unpossessed=lacking) ‘sisterless’.

List of Non-rational Possessed Nouns