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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 5: Adpositions and Adverbs

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The problematic status of the adverb-postposition distinction has been acknow- leged by various authors, including Rood and Taylor (1997:451); they are writ- ing about Lakhota, but also bring up English: The line between adverbs and postpositions is sometimes difficult to draw, chiefly because the same words are often used both ways. English adverbs and prepositions show the same kind of interchangeability. ‘Come on out from down in under there!’ has six adverb/preposi- tions in this kind of ambiguous function. A Lakhota example is: Owóte-thípi kį wígli-oɁinažį kį hél iskáhib hé. eating.place-house the oil-stopping.place the there beside stand ‘The café is there beside the gas station.’ In this example the adverb iskáhib functions nearly as a postposition. I find the wording “nearly as a postposition” to be intriguing: what is the difference between functioning as a postposition and nearly doing so? In section 1.2, when discussing phrases such as “used as a preposition” I mentioned the type of analysis according in which two homonymous words beloning to different parts of speech are posited, rather than stating that a word belongs to one part of speech, but can “function/be used as” another. This sort of analysis could be applied to some words which could be seen as adpositions and/or adverbs. Luraghi (2009:241) argues against such analyses: homophony has not only been invoked in order to explain case variation with adpositions, but in order to motivate double or triple syntactic behavior of certain...

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