External Possession Constructions (EPCs) are found in nearly all parts of the world and across widely divergent language families.

EPCs code the possessor as a core grammatical relation of the verb and in a constituent separate from that which contains the possessed item.  Though EPCs express possession, they do so without the necessary involvement of a possessive predicate such as "have" or "own".  In  many cases, EPCs  appear to "break the rules" about how many arguments a verb of a given valence can have.  They thus constitute an important limiting case for evaluating theories of the relationship between verbal argument structure and syntactic clause structure.  They also raise core questions about intersections among verbal valence, cognitive event construal, voice, and language processing.  My own work on External Possession began with study of Chickasaw in the late 1970's, but began in earnest with study of Maasai.

In September 1998, the Department of Linguistics at the University of Oregon hosted an international conference on External Possession, with partial support of the National Science Foundation (Grant SBR-9616482).  Selected papers from the conference are included in:

                Payne, Doris and Immanuel Barshi (eds.).  External Possession.  (Typological Studies in Linguistics.)
                        Amsterdam/Philadelphia:  John Benjamins.

                The data-rich papers in this first-ever volume on EPCs document their typological variability,
                explore diachronic reasons for variation, and investigate their functions and theoretical

                Contributors to the volume include:  Judith Aissen, Mark Baker, Hilary Chappell, Mark Donohue,
                Mirjam Fried, Donna Gerdts,  Martin Haspelmath, Paulette Levy, Jack Martin, William McGregor,
                Pamela Munro,  Doris Payne and Immanuel Barshi, Vera Podlesskaya and Ekaterina Rahkilina,
                Maria Polinsky and Bernard Comrie,  Noel Rude,  Ronald Schaefer, Maura Velazquez-Castillo,
                Roberto Zavala.