What does “have” mean?

What does have mean?  Consider these sentences:

I have seen him                                   I had a baby last week
I have the flu                                       I have the answer
I have a husband                                 Have fun

In the first sentence, “I have seen him,” have is purely grammatical and has no independent meaning (see previous post, Concrete and Grammatical Language from April 7th), so we can discount that instance.  In all the other sentences, though, is there any word that can be used to substitute for have? It has a vaguely possessive feel to it, though I certainly do not possess my husband, and did not possess a baby last week, or fun.

There are many linguistics mainstays which we use so frequently that we don’t stop to think what they mean. They are simply tools to link elements of the sentence.

Many languages do not use the verb have. The following examples come from the book, The Unfolding of Language, an evolutionary tour of mankind’s greatest invention, (p. 130) by Guy Deutscher.

Turkish: Ben-de bir kitap var (me-on a book is) ‘the book is at me’ (=I have a book)
Russian: U menja kniga (at me book) ‘the book (is) at me’ (= I have a book)
Irish: tá leabhar agam (is book at.me) ‘the book is at me’ (=I have a book)
Quechua: waska tiya-pu-wa-n (rope exist-for-me-it) ‘a rope is for me’ (=I have a rope)

Conclusion:  There is more than one way to skin a cat.

Exercise:  Do any students speak a language which has no have in it? Give similar examples if they do.
Can the class think of other sentences like the first examples above in which have has yet another meaning?

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