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Regular version of the site

Article

Two genitive constructions of Old Babylonian

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 2019. Vol. 82. No. 3. P. 395-403.

The paper shows that there is a pattern in the distribution of synthetic (šēp šarrim “the king’s foot”) vs. analytical (kaspum ša awīlim “the boss’s money”) genitive constructions in Old Babylonian. The choice depends on the lexical feature of head nouns known as (in)alienability. Old Babylonian kinship and body part terms, as well as some other
substantives, are “inalienable”, which means they take only the synthetic construction. All other Old Babylonian nouns are “alienable”, which means they admit both the synthetic and the analytical construction
(kasap tamkārī and kaspum ša tamkārī “the merchants’ money”). In the latter case, there is no general rule to predict the choice, yet in certain cases the two constructions display a non-random frequency distribution.