Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Applied Linguistics

First Advisor

Punske, Jeffrey


This thesis contributes to the debate on the link between a transitive verb corresponding to 'need' and the verb of possession in the world’s languages. Specifically, I analyze data mainly from Ewe and three Ghana-Togo Mountain (GTM) languages; Likpe, Tafi, and Logba. First, I report that Ewe expresses predicative possession using a wide range of structures. Prominent among these structures is an intransitive locative construction in which the possessee c-commands the possessor. This characterization situates Ewe in the B-languages group of the have/be dichotomy. Second, I demonstrate, drawing on compelling pieces of evidence from object shift in nominalization, object shift in inceptive aspectual constructions, object extraction in wh-movement, and the nominative-accusative paradigm, that Ewe has a transitive verb 'hiã' corresponding to 'need'. These facts pose a challenge to Harves and Kayne’s (2012) claim that all languages that have a transitive verb corresponding to need are languages that have an accusative-Case-assigning verb of possession. Third, I have shown that predicative possessees are not licensed in like manner as transitive objects, contra Halpert and Diercks’ (2012) prediction that all languages that have a transitive verb corresponding to 'need' are languages in which predicative possessees are licensed in the same manner as transitive objects. Fourth, I show that data from the three GTM languages also pose a challenge to the predictions in Harves & Kayne (2012) and Halpert & Diercks (2016). Finally, I suggest that the presence or absence of a transitive verb corresponding to 'need' is not necessarily contingent on a transitive verb of possession, and therefore, the optionality of a transitive 'need' in H-languages should be extended to B-languages.




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