In one Conlang I am developing there is a feature where owned items are treated as the subject of a verb, and the owner as the Object.

So, for example:

Car sohi Amelia

Would mean Amelia's Car, with Sohi being a verb approximating to "is owned by",

Are there any natural languages that have a similar feature? Or is it even a plausible grammatical development to begin with?

  • 2
    Note there is Constructed Languages for conlanging questions (but this doesn't make the question off-topic here). Apr 20 at 15:11
  • Ah, thank you, that is helpful for my questions directly relating to Conlanging.
    – Zoey
    Apr 20 at 16:11

In Latin the owner was in the dative case and the owned in the nominative case, as in the phrase

Mihi est amicus

To-me is a-friend

"I have a friend"

In German, the verb gehören uses a similar construction:

Das Auto gehört mir

The car belongs to-me

... and even the English verb belong fits in the same pattern.

The German and English examples are certainly marked and a construction with haben (German) or have or own (English) is the plain and common one.

  • Yeah, that should have been obvious, thanks for your help. I feel a bit dumb for slipping on that.
    – Zoey
    Apr 20 at 15:59
  • No need to worry. We are always kind of linguistically blind to the features of our first language. Apr 23 at 18:51
  • Note how belong in English has become the preposition bilong in Tok Pisin, which is the principal way to indicate possession.
    – Michaelyus
    May 20 at 16:21
  • 1
    In Russian, Welsh, Irish, and Hebrew (to name but four) the normal translation of I have a book is A book is to/at/with me.
    – Colin Fine
    May 20 at 22:24
  • The examples given here are slightly different, or at least feel slightly different to me. The possessor is not really an object as such – it’s dative (or prepositional) in the examples here (though not in Scandinavian), can’t be passivised (even in Scandinavian; *jeg tilhøres af bilen is meaningless), etc. May 20 at 23:26

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