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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 6: Adpositions and Conjunctions


In discussing the question of whether certain words are adpositions or conjunctions, we might first mention the view that there is no real distinction between these types of words, i.e. that they belong to the same word class. This position (which is in essence the same as saying that all conjunction are adpositions, or that all adposi- tions are conjunctions) has been held by various scholars; we have already seen (section 1.1) that Jespersen (1924/1965) regarded adpositions and conjunctions, along with two other traditional parts of speech, as belonging to the same word class. Referring to more recent times, Aarts (2004:19) states, “Ever since Emonds (1976:172f.) it has been common to conflate the categories preposition and conjunction.” However, I believe many or most of the works involved have focused on subordinating conjunctions, and might not necessarily claim that conjunctions overall are adpositions. On the other hand, Cuyckens (1991:115) says: the traditional definitions cannot sufficiently distinguish between the semantic properties of prepositions and conjunctions, simply because these categories are indeed semantically simi- lar (and not because of inadequate definitions). Now this similarity should not cause any problems: it is ironed out by the different grammatical properties of both categories. (Indeed, as I pointed out earlier, grammatical criteria carry more weight in traditional definitions.) As a result, the distinction between conjunctions and prepositions can be maintained. 6.1 Words Meaning ‘With’ as Conjunctions Words meaning ‘with’ in a comitative sense and those meaning ‘and’ are quite similar in meaning. Not...

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