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Linguistic Inquiry

Winter 2012, Vol. 43, No. 1, Pages 120-132
(doi: 10.1162/LING_a_00076)
© 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Having ‘Need’ and Needing ‘Have’
Article PDF (98.4 KB)
Abstract

A survey of a number of the world’s languages reveals that only those languages that have a transitive verb used to express possession (i.e., Have-languages) also have a transitive verb ‘need’. No Be-language lacking a transitive verb for possession has a transitive verb ‘need’. This generalization suggests a Hale and Keyser (1993, 2002)–style incorporation approach, whereby nominal ‘need’ incorporates to an unpronounced verbal HAVE, yielding transitive verbal ‘need’.