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Possessive indexes in Assamese


This paper deals with a comprehensive description of a set of possessive indexes found in Assamese, a language spoken in the eastern part of India, by a majority of people living in the state of Assam. Genetically, this language belongs to the group of Indo-Aryan language family and shares a close affinity with Bengali and Oriya languages due to their common source of origin. The possessive indexes of the language are found to be suffixed to the possessed noun in possessive constructions (Possessive NPs)) in terms of the category of person. Cross-linguistically, it is not very uncommon to find this kind of markers in possessive NPs (Siewierska 2004). But what makes Assamese interesting in this respect is that the set of markers found in Assamese is not derived from pronominal forms as attested in many languages of the world. Furthermore, the existence of possessive markers is an unusual phenomenon in Assamese in that it is neither common in NIA languages nor in South Asian languages (Paudyal 2008). Apart from a few geographically distant languages of Indo-Aryan origin, these markers are not available in any other Indo-Aryan languages which are close to Assamese, either geographically or genetically. Thus, this paper focuses on four aspects:  a comprehensive description of the markers as stated above, a survey of the markers in other Indo-Aryan languages, the historical origin of the markers, and the origin of the system of marking.

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