"Whose" is the only possessive relative pronoun in English. The antecedent of "whose" can be both people and things.

( - Purdue OWL)

"Whose" is not complete as a relative possessive pronoun. Its use favors people over abstract referents. "Democracy, whose core virtue is..." sounds artful and not standard.

Are there languages with a fully functional relative possessive pronoun? Is there a cross-linguistic reason why relative pronouns would be less likely to have a possessive form than other types of pronouns?

Possessive forms signify reference, as in "Japan's winters". A social concept of "ownership" is a subclass of that, as in "My car." It doesn't seem like the reason a relative possessive pronoun would favor entities with agency is because only agents are capable of consciously possessing something.

I believe the reason could be syntactic. It could have something to do with relative pronouns being able to take long ("unbounded") complements which constrains possessive pronouns to avoid... excessive syntactic content within their subtrees. Maybe it makes parsing sentences harder. (Or, it is a quirk of English where we only have relative pronouns which take a clause as complement, or possessive pronouns which take a noun phrase as complement, and there is some attribute of syntax that "blocks" having both.)

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    In English, possession can be expressed with the preposition “of”, so “Democracy, of which the core virtue is...” could also be considered possessive, couldn't it? The languages with the category of case usually have a fully functional relative possessive pronoun, e.g. German and the Slavic languages like Ukrainian, Polish, or Russian do have them. In the Slavic languages, if the antecedent is inanimate, the genitive case of the correspondent word for ‘what’ or ‘which’ is used, like in English it would be “Democracy, which's core virtue is...”
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 13:55
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    “Democracy, whose core virtue is…” sounds perfectly standard and not at all artful to me; the variant “Democracy, the core virtue of which is…” is significantly more artful and formal. There are definitely languages whose(!) relative pronouns distinguish possessives just as much as other pronouns – Old English or German, for example, both of which distinguish masculine, feminine, neuter and plural forms. That said, if there are any languages that have separate, fully-fledged possessive relative pronouns (i.e., which inflects for case, gender, number, etc.), I don’t know of them. Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 15:48


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