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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 7: Adpositions and Pronouns

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I originally had not planned on having a chapter on adpositions vs. pronouns, since I had not thought of any situations in which it might be difficult to distin- guish them. However, there is (at least) one such type of situation: we have al- ready seen (e.g. in section 2.2) that in some languages certain (putative) adposi- tions can bear (what appears to be) inflection marking the person and number of a possessor, i.e. a sort of marking for person/number agreement. In at least some such cases it might not be clear whether the words involved are adpositions or pronouns. Consider the following paradigm for the Welsh preposition ar ‘on, in’: 1sg arnaf 2sg arnat 3msg arno 3fsg arni 1pl arnom 2pl arnoch 3pl arnynt Table 1: Forms of the Welsh Preposition ar (from Stalmaszczyk 2007:127) For example, arnaf means ‘on me’. These forms have been given various names, and some of the different names may indicate different ideas about what word class they belong to; Stewart and Joseph (2009:109) say: There are in the Celtic languages sets of combined (‘composite’) forms used obligatorily when a preposition would take a pronominal object (e.g. SG agam ‘at me’). These forms are sometimes referred to as PREPOSITIONAL PRONOUNS …, which accords well with the distri- butional facts in SG, but one is apt to find them labeled as PRONOMINAL PREPOSITIONS …, CONJUGATED PREPOSITIONS …, or INFLECTED PREPOSITIONS There are several possible positions on their part of speech: 1) they are preposi- tions (and...

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