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Adpositions and Other Parts of Speech

Alan Libert

It has often proven difficult to classify certain words as adpositions or nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. This book looks at the distinctions between adpositions, i.e. prepositions and postpositions, and other word classes with respect to a wide range of languages. In particular, it focuses on how these distinctions have been treated by previous authors and the terminology used to describe items on or close to the adpositional border, e.g. pseudo-postpositions and auxiliary nouns. Chapters are devoted to adpositions as opposed to most of the other traditional parts of speech. Among the criteria for (non-)adpositional status brought up are the presence or absence of inflection on putative adpositions and genitive case marking on complements of such words. Definitive conclusions on how to determine whether words are adpositions seem elusive, but some formal criteria, such as absence of inflection, are problematic; possibly a solution will involve a notion of adpositional function.


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Chapter 1: Introduction


1.1 General Remarks The only traditional part of speech which has no members (in some language) which could plausibly be confused with adpositions is interjections. In this book I will look at the question of distinguishing between adpositions and all of the other (traditional) parts of speech, and at items whose status as adpositions or one of these parts of speech has been disputed or is difficult to determine. I do not wish to duplicate the work of others. Hagège (2010) deals with dis- tinguishing adpositions from some other items in the section entitled “On Some Word-Types that Might Be Mistaken for Adps [= Adpositions]” (pp. 62-96), but he does not discuss the traditional parts of speech there. (He does have a subsec- tion on “Adps and Conjunctions of Coordination” (pp. 93-96), but not one on adpositions vs. conjunctions in general.) Rather, he treats preverbs, “direction- pointers” (ibid.:66), “direct and inverse morphemes” (ibid.:67), and various other items, as well as particles such as up in to look up. In contrast, I am limiting myself to the traditional parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, and pronouns; to my knowledge, there is no extended work on the general issue of the distinction between adpositions and words of these classes. Note that some of the items that Hagège brings up, e.g. applicative affixes, would not be thought of as words, and would hence not belong to word classes or parts of speech; in this book I am concerned...

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