The possessive relation in Sanskrit bahuvrihi compounds
Ellipsis or movement?
IUSS - University School for Advanced Studies Pavia
Many Sanskrit bahuvrihis involve a possessive relation whereby one of the bahuvrihi-members is the possessum and an expression not mentioned within the bahuvrihi is the corresponding possessor: e.g., ugra-putra- (?V 8.67.11), not ‘mighty son(s)’ but ‘Aditi having mighty sons’ or ‘Aditi whose sons are mighty’. This study addresses the following research question: how is this possessive relation established in Sanskrit bahuvrihis? We consider two possible strategies. According to the first strategy, a linguistic unit which conveys the meaning ‘having’ and undergoes ellipsis combines with the bahuvrihi stem: e.g., the combination of this elided unit with ugra-putra-, which per se would convey the meaning ‘mighty son(s)’, yields the meaning ‘having mighty sons’. According to the second strategy, the possessor starts out within the phrase projected by one of the bahuvrihi-members: e.g., áditi- (i.e., the Sanskrit term for ‘Aditi’) starts out as the specifier of the phrase projected by putrá- in the above example; in this configuration áditi- is read as the possessor of putrá-; only subsequently will áditi- exit the bahuvrihi. We argue that the second strategy is superior because only it captures certain restrictions on the internal order of bahuvrihis.