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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 4: Adpositions and Adjectives


There is less discussion of items on or near the adposition-adjective border than about those on the adposition-noun or adjective-verb borders, possibly because there are fewer such items. Some of the debate involves English “transitive ad- jectives”, to which I have devoted a separate section, after a brief mention of some other cases. Kornfilt (1997:100) says with respect to Turkish, “most postpositions can easily be distinguished from adjectives, since the latter do not assign case. Those postpositions that do not assign over case are nevertheless distinguishable from adjectives by their semantics”. However, she does not say there what the distin- guishing semantic facts would be, and, as we saw earlier (section 1.12), some words which might be classified as adpositions have meanings which are quite far from typical adpositional meanings. Lewis (2000:86) mentions some Turkish words which take case-marked ob- jects but which he calls adjectives: “A number of adjectives are construed with a dative, e.g. ait [A]1 ‘belonging (to)’, mukabil [A] ‘in return (for)’, aykırı ‘con- trary (to)’. They are mentioned here [i.e. in the chapter on postpositions] because in some contexts they may be parsed as postpositions.” However, one or more of these words is treated as a postposition in some other works, e.g. mukabil in Hacıeminoğlu (1992) and ait and mukabil in Dinçer (2009). Kornfilt (1997:472) has a section entitled “Deadjectival Postpositions” in which she discusses the word nazaran ‘compared to; according to’. She says (ibid...

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