Are there any languages that have head marking in possessive noun phrases, but that also agree that marking with gender? Essentially so that a morpheme would be on the possessee and would look at least like this -POSS.(possessor's gender) (and thus would be different for every gender of the possessor)

  • In Romanian, the genitival article varies with both the number and gender of the possessor(s); however, it is not part of the possessee, but rather a distinct word, preceding it.
    – Lucian
    May 15, 2021 at 23:54

1 Answer 1


Oneida seems to attach different possessive prefixes to the head noun based on the gender of the possessor.

The following forms are found in a portion of the table "Possessive prefixes" on page 152 of "Oneida Teaching Grammar", by Clifford Abbott:

English a-stems c-stems o/u stems i-stems
his lao- lao- lao- lao
her ao- ao- ao- ao
her ako- ako- akao- ako

Oneida is one of several languages listed as having head marking in possessives and having multiple genders in the World Atlas of Language Structures. Coding errors in features in the Atlas are not extremely rare, so I'd advise searching for external confirmation of its data, but it can be a good place to start if you're trying to find an example of a language with a particular combination of features.

Abkhaz is another example from the WALS data set. Here is an example Abkhaz noun phrase from Reference in Discourse, by Andrej A. Kibrik, page 97:

(3.16) Abkhaz (Abkhaz-Adyghean, Abkhazia)
a-č’k˚’ən i-la
DEF-boy 3M.POSS-dog
the boy's dog

Within this NP, reference to the boy is performed twice: by means of the full NP and by means of the possessive bound pronoun.

Arabic is not listed in WALS list of languages with head-marking possessive constructions, but standard Arabic does have pronominal possessive suffixes that are inflected for the gender of the possessor. However, the Arabic possessive suffixes are not used when the possessor is an explicit noun phrase; in that situation, the possessed noun is put into the construct state instead.

  • Thank you very much! The funny part, i did look up a combo of features in WALS, and i did see that Abkhaz had both gender and head-marked possessive, but I didn't dig deep enough into its grammar to find the gendered possessive. At least I was on the right track. Thank you once more!
    – Rob
    May 15, 2021 at 6:20

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