Linguistics Adpositions
by
Alan Libert
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 April 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0111

Introduction

Adposition is the name of a part of speech or word class. Although it may not be a familiar term to those outside of linguistics, the name of one of its subsets is: preposition. The latter type of word gets its name from the fact that it (generally) occurs before its complement; that is, the noun (or more correctly noun phrase) which it governs. Examples of these words in English are to, from, of, and under. In some languages, such as Turkish, the equivalent words are found after their complement, and they are called postpositions. The term adpositions is a general term that includes both prepositions and postpositions, as well as some more exotic items of the same sort: circumpositions (part of which occur before the complement, and part after it), inpositions (which occur within their complement) and what have been called ambipositions (which can occur either before or after their complement). Adpositions have been studied from various points of view, including syntax, semantics, and neurolinguistics, and this bibliography contains sections devoted to each of these. The number of works that has been written on them is very extensive (probably several thousand, leaving aside those works in which adpositions are not the main topic), and, because many of these works are descriptive, it is difficult to state that certain of them are seminal or of particular significance (unlike in more theoretical fields, such as generative syntax or grammaticalization). For these reasons, the list of works chosen for this article must necessarily be somewhat random—some have been more influential than others, but this may be in part because of their accessibility and/or the language(s) they treat. Nevertheless, this bibliography will give an idea of the type of research that has been done on adpositions, and it will include some of the best-known works on them. On the other hand, some lesser-known papers that deal with interesting or neglected aspects of prepositions are also listed. The works listed come from a variety of theoretical frameworks and a long span of time.

General Works

This section includes work on adpositions of a general nature, not limited to one language or group of languages, or to one aspect of this word class. Some of this work attempts to define adposition (and is thus similar to some of the works cited under Issues of Classification).

Entries in Linguistic Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Naturally, there are entries for adposition or preposition in most dictionaries of linguistics, but most of these are short and thus not worth citing here. Hengirmen 1999 is a notable exception, and thus is included here, although it is not in a widely known language. Schaeder 2000 is an entry on Präposition in a German lexicon that covers most of the positional possibilities for adpositions; it is longer than the definition in most linguistics dictionaries, and one of a handful of entries by this author in this volume. Not all encyclopedias of linguistics have entries for adposition or preposition; the three encyclopedia entries, Haspelmath 2003, Jaworska 1999, and Kurzon 2006, will serve as good, concise introductions to this word class.

  • Haspelmath, Martin. 2003. Adpositions. In International encyclopedia of linguistics. Vol. 1. 2d ed. Edited by William J. Frawley, 39–41. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Brings up different types of adpositions: grammatical versus concrete and simple versus complex adpositions. Mentions other items that convey the same meanings as adpositions: case affixes, and relational nouns. Discusses some types of words from which adpositions can develop: relational nouns, adverbs, and verbs.

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    • Hengirmen, Mehmet. 1999. İlgeç. In Dilbilgisi ve dilbilim terimleri sözlüğü. Edited by Mehmet Hengirme, 220–224. Istanbul: Engin Yayınevi.

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      Although this Turkish dictionary of grammatical and linguistic terminology is not very long (448 pages), this entry on ilgeç “postposition” is 4 ½ pages; one might compare the length of the entry for ad “noun” (less than ½ page) or sıfat “adjective” (several lines). Mentions some words of other classes that can function as postpositions. Gives the meaning of some postpositions, provides example sentences, and presents a classification of them in terms of the case of their complement.

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      • Jaworska, E. 1999. Prepositions and prepositional phrases. In Concise encyclopedia of grammatical categories. Edited by Keith Brown and Jim Miller, 304–311. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

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        Brings up two “traditional misconception[s]” (p. 304) about adpositions: their invariability and the limitation on their possible objects to nouns and pronouns. The latter is then prominent in the section on “The Structure of Prepositional Phrases,” which asserts, following Jespersen and other authors, that in addition to NPs, adpositions can take other types of complements (PPs and finite clauses), or no complement. Other matters dealt with include similarities and differences between adpositions and some other word classes.

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        • Kurzon, D. 2006. Adpositions. In Encyclopedia of language and linguistics. Vol. 1. 2d ed. Edited by Keith Brown, 63–66. Oxford: Elsevier.

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          Discusses the connection between the position of adpositions relative to their complements (i.e., before or after) and general word order (i.e., generally head-first languages are prepositional and head-final languages are postpositional), the (lack of) inflection on adpositions, and adpositional semantics.

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          • Schaeder, Burkhard. 2000. “Präposition.” In Metzler Lexikon Sprache. 2d ed. Edited by Helmut Glück, 544–545. Stuttgart, Germany: Verlag J. B. Metzler.

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            One of a number of entries by this author in this volume, the others being “Adposition” (p. 12) “Ambiposition” (p. 38), “Postposition” (p 539), and “Zirkumposition” (p. 811). The entry for präposition states that this term can be used for adpositions in general, and it gives several characteristics of adpositions, including their invariability (but see Jaworska 1999) and the fact that they govern cases. A semantic classification is given (e.g., local, causal, and concessive adpositions). The entry for postposition hints at the similarity between some case suffixes and postpositions (e.g., in Hungarian).

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            Other General Works

            Only one book is included in this section, Hagège 2010, which discusses a wide range of matters, including defining the class adposition. This question is a main focus, or the only focus, of other work on adpositions, including Cuykens 1991, Dryer 2013, Ljunggren 1951, and Roegiest 1977. The fact that so much effort has been put into attempting to address this question may show that adpositions are more difficult to define than some other word classes, such as nouns. This leads to a related question: What is the nature of adpositions? What sort of items are they? In particular, there has been much discussion about whether they are lexical or functional words, and Déchaine 2005 takes a stand on this. As noted in the Introduction, one way of classifying adpositions is in terms of their linear relation to their complement: before them, after them, and so on. Dryer 2013 presents figures on languages favoring one of these types (or not favoring any), along with a map of the location of the languages. Plank 2011 looks at what is behind adpositions being of one type (e.g., prepositions). A question that comes up with various word classes, and with word classes in general, is the extent to which they are universal. DeLancey 2005 replies in the negative with respect to adpositions. Finally, Walker 2007 is a rare example of a (nonprescriptive) article on adpositions in the popular press.

            • Cuykens, Hubert. 1991. Prepositions as a part of speech. Linguistica Antverpiensia 25:107–127.

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              Looks at the question, “What are prepositions?” (p. 107), and brings up morphological, syntactic, and semantic characteristics. Compares adpositions to subordinating conjunctions and verbal particles. Cuykens considers prepositions to be “relational words” (p. 121).

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              • Déchaine, Rose-Marie. 2005. Grammar at the borderline: A case study of P as a lexical category. In Proceedings of the 24th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics. Edited by John Alderete, Chung-hye Han, and Alexei Kochetov, 1–18. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

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                Claims that adpositions are a lexical, rather than a functional, class, and that they represent “the elsewhere case” (p. 4) among the word classes—while words are realized as nouns or verbs if the phrases that they head are governed by determiners or aspect, respectively, in (most) other situations they surface as adpositions.

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                • DeLancey, Scott. 2005. Adpositions as a non-universal category. In Linguistic diversity and linguistic theories. Edited by Zygmunt Frazyngier, Adam Hodges, and David S. Rood, 185–202. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

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                  One might wonder about whether adpositions (or some other type of word) occur in all languages. DeLancey focuses on the Penutian language Klamath as an example of a language lacking adpositions. He discusses some “[a]dposition-like categories” (p. 188) that occur in various languages: serial verbs and relator nouns.

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                  • Dryer, Matthew S. 2013. Order of adposition and noun phrase. In The world atlas of language structures online. Edited by Matthew S. Dryer and Martin Haspelmath. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

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                    A good, although brief, introduction to adpositions, as it deals not only with the different types of adposition based on position (and has two examples of the most exotic type, inpositions), but also with the issue of defining adpositions. Includes a link to a map showing the location of languages in the (large) sample used in the survey concerning the different types (which languages are mainly prepositional, postpositional, inpositional, have no main type, or lack adpositions).

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                    • Hagège, Claude. 2010. Adpositions. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                      DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199575008.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      One chapter is concerned with “a comprehensive characterization of adpositions,” and, among other matters, it deals with distinguishing adpositions from other items, such as case affixes. Other chapters deal with morphology, syntax, and semantics, although some of the morphology chapter discusses issues (arguably) outside morphology, such as adpositions in terms of their linear relation to their object (prepositions, postpositions, and ambipositions). Has examples from a wide range of languages.

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                      • Ljunggren, K. G. 1951. Towards a definition of the concept of preposition. Studia Linguistica 5.1: 7–20.

                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9582.1951.tb00473.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Reviews some previous discussions by Scandinavian authors (mainly Jespersen, Brøndal, and Diderichsen) of prepositions as opposed to other word classes. Concludes that semantics, rather than function, should be used to distinguish prepositions from conjunctions, and that subordinating conjunctions are prepositions.

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                        • Plank, Frans. 2011. Where’s diachrony? Linguistic Typology 15:455–471.

                          DOI: 10.1515/LITY.2011.030Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          Discusses what causes adpositions to be prepositions or postpositions. Since the majority of languages are mainly either prepositional or postpositional, there may be a “timeless [i.e., not diachronic] universal preference for harmony” (p. 458) with respect to the ordering of adpositions and their complements.

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                          • Roegiest, E. 1977. Problèmes de délimitation de la classe des prépositions. Revue des langues vivantes 43.5: 419–434.

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                            Proposes a classification of the invariable word classes: prepositions and conjunctions are both +rection (unlike interjections and adverbs), where rection means the requirement of another item (but not of a particular form, such as a case form); prepositions and subordinating conjunctions both belong to the same class, subordinators, with coordinating conjunctions making up a separate class.

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                            • Walker, Ruth. 12 January 2007. Look homeword, adposition. Christian Science Monitor, 18.

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                              Adpositions rarely come up in the popular press. This very short article discusses the order of English adpositions relative to their object (and also that of adjectives with respect to their nouns), bringing up prepositions, postpositions, ambipositions, and circumpositions. An easy introduction to the subject for nonlinguists, and perhaps of interest to linguists as well, as they can see what a nontechnical presentation of this subject looks like.

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                              Pedagogical and Reference Works

                              The correct use of adpositions can be difficult, particularly for nonnative speakers of a language, who may struggle (due to first-language influence) to choose the appropriate adposition for a context. The books listed in this section are not academic works (although the border between academic and nonacademic works is not always clear, and Lindstromberg 2010 may not be far from being academic), but linguists may find it interesting to look at which features of adpositions are considered to be difficult, and at how the uses and meanings of adpositions are explained to lay readers. Included here is at least one book on each major living European language: Hill 1968 and Lindstromberg 2010 for English; Booth 2003 for French; Schröder 1986 for German; Chiuchiù, et al. 1984 for Italian; Wade 1983 for Russian; and Pérez Cino 2000 for Spanish. One can find other such books, but the ones listed here are good sources of information for learning how to use prepositions in these language. Also included is a much older book, Butler 1825, on Latin.

                              • Booth, Trudie Maria. 2003. French prepositions: Forms and usage. Lanham, MD: Univ. Press of America.

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                                Unlike most of the other books listed in this section, this book is not organized by individual preposition. The first chapter lists “simple” and “compound prepositions,” with examples of usage. The second chapter lists words that belong to other words classes as well as being prepositions. The fourth chapter goes into great detail on “The Use of Certain Prepositions.” Several chapters deal with prepositions in different types of construction.

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                                • Butler, Samuel. 1825. A praxis on the Latin prepositions, being an attempt to illustrate their origin, signification, and government, in the way of exercise. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green.

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                                  Each chapter is devoted to a single preposition, or group of related prepositions. For example, chapter 6 deals with circa, circum, and circiter, all meaning (various senses of) “about.” Some of the etymological information is incorrect, but there is much detail on the meanings and uses of some prepositions. Many English sentences are given for readers to translate into Latin using the preposition under discussion.

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                                  • Chiuchiù, A., M. C. Fazi, and R. Bagianti. 1984. Le preposizioni. Revised and corrected edition. Perugia, Italy: Edizioni Guerra.

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                                    Originally published in 1982. Unlike Schröder 1986 on German, only deals with a few prepositions (a “to, at, in”; con “with”; da “by, from”; di “of”; fra/tra “between”; in “in”; per “for”; and su “on”), but has many examples of them in different meanings and in “phraseology.” Given the range of meanings of some of these prepositions, this book may be quite useful for nonnative speakers.

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                                    • Hill, L. A. 1968. Prepositions and adverbial particles: An interim classification: Semantic, structural, and graded. London: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                      Gives the uses and meanings of many English prepositions and particles. Constructions in which they occur are described in terms of “patterns” (e.g., N — P × N, as in The sky above us [p. xiv]). Uses/meanings are divided into elementary, intermediate, and advanced.

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                                      • Lindstromberg, Seth. 2010. English prepositions explained. Rev. ed. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

                                        DOI: 10.1075/z.157Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        Unlike most textbooks on (aspects of) English, this book comes from an academic publisher and has theoretical grounding (e.g., the cognitive linguist Langacker is referred to several times). Lindstromberg has used the World Wide Web as the source of most of his illustrative examples. Many simple pictures describe meanings of prepositions.

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                                        • Pérez Cino, Waldo. 2000. Manual práctico de la preposición española. Madrid: Editorial Verbum.

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                                          Has a chapter for each of the most important prepositions, each one including a reading passage and exercises. There are five appendixes, the first of which is on other prepositions (e.g., cabe “near”) and words used as prepositions (e.g., durante “during, for”).

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                                          • Schröder, Jochen. 1986. Lexikon deutscher Präpositionen. Leipzig: VEB Verlag Enzyklopädie Leipzig.

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                                            Gives information about uses of adpositions, cases of their objects, their position relative to their objects, and example sentences. Includes less common adpositions (such as unfern “not far from”). A useful resource, especially for nonnative speakers.

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                                            • Wade, Terrance. 1983. Prepositions in modern Russian. Durham, UK: Univ. of Durham.

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                                              Describes meanings and uses of twenty-five preposition-case combinations, with examples. Goes into considerable detail with respect to some of these. Includes an “Index of English Prepositions,” which consists mainly of phrases containing these prepositions, so that English speakers will easily be able to find their Russian equivalents.

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                                              Bibliographies and Literature Reviews

                                              Of the two bibliographies, Guimier 1981 is by far the larger; it is a very useful resource for finding older work on adpositions. Huppertz 1991 is much shorter, but again can be of use. Raevskaya 2014 is a short introduction to Russian research on prepositions.

                                              • Guimier, Claude. 1981. Prepositions: An analytical bibliography. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

                                                DOI: 10.1075/lisl.8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                Not recent, but extensive, with approximately 1,700 works listed, going back to the 19th century. The “Analytical” part of the title may be misleading, as there are no comments on the listings (which are in alphabetical order). It refers to the fact that there is an “Index of Languages and Subjects,” which is arranged first by language, and within each language or language (sub-)family, by subject.

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                                                • Huppertz, Angelika. 1991. Bibliography on prepositions. In Approaches to prepositions. Edited by Gisa Rauh, 9–28. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                  A continuation of Guimier’s bibliography. Contains more than three hundred references.

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                                                  • Raevskaya, M. V. 2014. Teoreticheskiye problemy izucheniya predlogov v otechestvennoy lingvistike. Vestnik Yuzhno-Ural’skogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya: Lingvistika 11.2: 21–24.

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                                                    Mentions many Russian linguists who have studied prepositions (including such important figures as V. V. Vinogradov and E. T. Cherkesova), although it does not cite the relevant works of all of them. Semantic and diachronic issues are major concerns in Russian writing on prepositions.

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                                                    Collections of Papers

                                                    There are some books and special issues of journals that are collections of papers on adpositions. Some are on particular kinds or aspects of adpositions, while others are more general. They will give a snapshot of the type of work that is being done on adpositions.

                                                    Books

                                                    There have been a few (fairly recent) books containing papers on adpositions. Their existence could be taken as a sign of a growing interest in this word class. However, some collections, such as Rauh 1991, are restricted to European languages, and one, Hentschel and Menzel 2003, is on a single language, Polish, others, like Tseng 2013, have papers on a wide range of languages. Similarly, some collections, including Zelinsky-Wibbelt 1993, focus on one or several branches of linguistics, while others, such as Rauh 1991, are not restricted in this way. However, semantics seems to be the most popular topic, as almost all of the collections have one or more papers devoted to it.

                                                    • Feigenbaum, Susanne, and Dennis Kurzon, eds. 2002. Prepositions in their syntactic, semantic and pragmatic context. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

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                                                      Contains papers on a variety of languages (e.g., Hebrew, Bislama, Maltese) and subjects, including semantics, language change, contrastive linguistics, language contact, language acquisition, and aphasia.

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                                                      • Hentschel, Gerd, and Thomas Menzel, eds. 2003. Präpositionen im Polnischen. Studia Slavica Oldenburgensia 11. Oldenburg, Germany: Bibliotheks- und Informationssystem der Universität Oldenburg.

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                                                        A particularly specialized collection of papers on adpositions of a single language (from a one-day conference). A large proportion of the papers are on (nonformal) semantics, polysemy being an issue that comes up frequently.

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                                                        • Kurzon, Dennis, and Silvia Adler, eds. 2008. Adpositions: Pragmatic, semantic and syntactic perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

                                                          DOI: 10.1075/tsl.74Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          Contains four papers on Hebrew, and three on French; English, Armenian, and Turkic languages are the subject of other papers. Of particular interest is the paper “Prepositional Wars” by Julia G. Krivorurchko, which looks at the political nuances of the choice between the Russian phrases na Ukraine and v Ukraine, both meaning “in Ukraine.”

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                                                          • Rauh, Gisa, ed. 1991. Approaches to prepositions. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                            Contains papers on syntax, semantics, grammaticalization, classification, and the bibliography by Huppertz listed in the section on Bibliographies and Literature Reviews. Only deals with Indo-European languages (e.g., French and German).

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                                                            • Saint-Dizier, Patrick, ed. 2006. Syntax and semantics of prepositions. Text, Speech and Language Technology 29. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

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                                                              In spite of the title, the papers in this book are not restricted to syntax and semantics: computational concerns are (at least) in the background (as indicated by the title of the series in which it appears), and one paper deals with language acquisition. The semantic analyses are of a formal nature.

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                                                              • Šarić, Ljiljana, and Donald F. Reindl, eds. 2001. On prepositions. Studia Slavica Oldenburgensia 8. Oldenburg, Germany: Bibliotheks- und Informationssytem der Universität Oldenburg.

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                                                                Has papers on, among other topics, preposition stranding, semantics, and the lexical-functional distinction as applied to prepositions. Donald F. Reindl’s contribution is on postpositions in Slavic languages, which generally prefer prepositions to postpositions.

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                                                                • Tseng, Jesse, ed. 2013. Prépositions et postpositions: Approches typologiques et formelles. Paris: Lavoisier.

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                                                                  Languages treated include Tswana, Kabyle, Korean, and Kurdish. One paper looks at prepositions fused with articles in French and German. Another is on the Spanish preposition a (to, etc.) and the Romanian preposition pe (“on”, etc.), both of which can introduce direct objects (see the subsection on The Spanish Personal a).

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                                                                  • Zelinsky-Wibbelt, Cornelia, ed. 1993. The semantics of prepositions: From mental processing to natural language processing. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

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                                                                    Deals mainly with English, French, German, and Dutch within a cognitive grammar framework or a “two-level approach to semantics” (p. 4, Zelinsky-Wibbelt’s “Introduction”), the two levels being Semantic Form and Conceptual Structure. One paper looks at English and Japanese locational and directional adpositions.

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                                                                    Journal Issues

                                                                    There are no journals devoted to adpositions (no to any other part of speech, to my knowledge), but some linguistics journals have had special issues on adpositions. They are all relatively recent, and again show the growing interest in this word class; the ones cited below are only some of those that have been produced. Generally, these issues are somewhat narrow in scope rather than being about adpositions in general. Jezikoslovlje 13.1 is about one group of languages; Cuykens, et al. 2004 is on a particular kind of adposition’ and (not surprisingly) Computational Linguistics 35.2 is devoted to one branch of linguistics. While one might not say that Langages 173 is dedicated to semantics, this field comes up in every paper in the issue. Nordlyd 33.1 and Nordlyd 33.2 are in general oriented toward generative syntax. Faits de langue 9 is broader in coverage, which may not be unexpected, given the large number of papers it contains.

                                                                    • Cuykens, Hubert, Walter de Mulder, and Tanja Mortelmans, eds. 2004. Special issue: Adpositions of Movement. Belgian Journal of Linguistics 18.

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                                                                      The papers collected here deal with the syntax and semantics of prepositions of movement in some European languages, including Dutch, German, English, and Catalan.

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                                                                      • Special issue: Adpositions. 2006a. Nordlyd: Trømso University Working Papers on Language & Linguistics 33.1.

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                                                                        Contains six papers in a generative framework on the classification of adpositions and related items: case markers, body part nouns, and axial parts (see the descriptions of Svenonius 2006 and Muriungi 2006, both cited under Adpositions and Other Words). Languages dealt with include French, Persian, and Japanese.

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                                                                        • Special issue: Adpositions. 2006b. Nordlyd: Trømso University Working Papers on Language & Linguistics 33.2.

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                                                                          Contains five papers, most within a generative syntactic framework, the exception being a more descriptive paper on Krio prepositions. Norwegian, Korean, Hungarian, and Russian are treated in other papers.

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                                                                          • Special issue: Approches récentes de la préposition. 2009. Langages 173.

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                                                                            All of the issues of this journal have been on some particular topic, so it is not a surprise that there would be one on prepositions. All of the papers are partly or entirely on French, and all of them involve semantics. The introduction to the issue, by Walter DeMulder and Dejan Stosic, will be useful even for those not particularly interested in French, as it brings up a great deal of previous work done on adpositions.

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                                                                            • Special issue: A Cognitive Linguistic View of South Slavic Prepositions and Prefixes. 2012. Jezikoslovlje 13.1.

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                                                                              This journal is published in Croatia. The issue listed here is quite specific in scope, about prepositions and prefixes from one subbranch of Indo-European, from the point of view of one theoretical framework. In some cases a preposition and a prefix are homonyms; there is one paper each on Croatian uz (up) as a preposition and as a prefix, while another paper treats the Bulgarian items nad (above) and pod (below), which again can be prepositions or prefixes.

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                                                                              • Special issue: La préposition: une catégorie accessoire?. 1997. Faits de langue 9.

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                                                                                Most of the issues of this journal are on a particular topic or language family, or on languages of a certain area. This issue contains more than twenty papers on prepositions. Some of these are on quite specific topics, such as the meaning and function of the French preposition de (of) when it introduces infinitival clauses dependent on a verb. One section of the issue is “Primarité du spatial?” (The primacy of the spatial?), an important linguistic question, not limited to adpositions.

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                                                                                • Special issue: Prepositions. 2009. Computational Linguistics 35.2.

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                                                                                  Although, like some other branches of linguistics, computational linguistics has not always shown a great interest in adpositions, this has changed in recent years, as evidenced by this issue. As stated in the introductory paper (by Timothy Baldwin, Valia Kordoni, and Aline Villavicencio), the issue aims to “reignite interest in the systematic treatment of prepositions in applications” (p. 119).

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                                                                                  Issues of Classification

                                                                                  Some adpositions resemble words of other classes (e.g., adverbs) or affixes (mainly case affixes). For quite some time, various authors (going back at least as far as Otto Jespersen, and including such major recent figures as Ray Jackendoff and Joseph Emonds) have argued against the traditional classification of adpositions, asserting, for example, that the classes of adpositions and adverbs should be conflated, or that (some) case markers are actually adpositions. Some questions about classification are due to that fact that adpositions are generally derived from other types of words (see the section on Grammaticalization and Adpositions). The papers listed here represent only a sample of the types of claims that have been made about the classification of adpositions (and/or related items) in general, or of particular adpositions.

                                                                                  Adpositions and Affixes

                                                                                  Adpositions can have similar, or the same, functions and meanings as case suffixes/markers, and thus it can be difficult to distinguish between them, especially if one does not see surface morphological facts as indicative of an item’s true status. Friedman 1991 looks at this issue with respect to some Romani items, while Zaring 1991 argues that two putative French prepositions are actually case markers. It can also be problematic to distinguish between adpositions and verbal prefixes, as they can have the same form and meaning. For Asbury, et al. 2007, verbal prefixes and adpositions belong to the same class, as do some case affixes.

                                                                                  • Asbury, Anna, Berit Gehrke, and Veronika Hegedűs. 2007. One size fits all: Prefixes, particles, adpositions and cases as members of the category P. In Proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth Western Conference on Linguistics. Edited by Erin Bainbridge and Brian Agbayani, 34–47. Fresno: California State Univ.

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                                                                                    Verbal prefixes such as German auf- (on) are homonymous and synonymous with prepositions. This paper argues that such prefixes, along with locational and directional case affixes such as the Hungarian inessive suffix, should be seen as belonging to one category, P. Evidence includes the fact that these case suffixes behave in the same way as Hungarian postpositions when taking pronouns as complements.

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                                                                                    • Friedman, Victor A. 1991. Romani nominal inflection: Cases or postpositions? In Problemy opisu gramatycznego języków słowiańskich. Edited by Maciej Grochowski, 57–63. Warsaw, Poland: Polska Akademia Nauk, Instytut Języka Polskiego.

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                                                                                      The morphological status of some Romani markers (e.g., those for the locative and the instrumental) is difficult to determine. On several grounds, such as the fact that with the exception of these items, Romani has no postpositions, Friedman concludes that they are suffixes.

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                                                                                      • Zaring, Laurie. 1991. On prepositions and case-marking in French. Canadian Journal of Linguistics 36.4: 363–377.

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                                                                                        Various figures in generative grammar, including Chomsky, have put forth the idea that one or more prepositions are case markers. The situation is not clear with respect to the French items à (to) and de (of): a counter-claim has been made that they are prepositions. Zaring examines various tests and concludes that not all of them are indicative of the category of these words; based on the two tests that she considers valid, à and de are case markers.

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                                                                                        Adpositions and Other Words

                                                                                        Adpositions can also be difficult to distinguish from words of other classes, and they are sometimes homophonous with them. Libert 2013 is a general work on this topic, looking at adpositions as opposed to most of the other traditional parts of speech. The distinction between adpositions and adverbs is particularly problematic and will be dealt with in a separate section. In some languages, it can be difficult to determine whether a word is a verb or an adposition, at least in some occurrences. Becker and Arms 1969 sees verbs and adpositions as belonging to the same category (predicates), while Booth 1979 considers them to be different classes, although in Kawaiisu adpositions can function as verbs. Li and Thompson 1974 classify the much-discussed coverbs of Chinese as prepositions. The situation with respect to the Hawaiian words discussed in Cook 1999 is complex; although they have been seen as copular verbs, for Cook two of them are prepositions. In some languages, the border between adpositions and nouns is not clear. Muriungi 2006 examines various words of Kîîtharaka: some are clearly adpositions; others are, in his view, “hybrids” between nouns and adpositions, and are prepositional phrases rather than being heads. Svenonius 2006 also looks at some noun-like items, and assigns them to the class of axial parts. There is also confusion and overlap between adpositions and conjunctions (some of which are called complementizers in more recent work); see Cuykens 1991, Ljunggren 1951, and Roegiest 1977 (all cited under Other General Works) for discussions of the relation between these word classes. Leonard 1997 looks at a different aspect of the problem, asserting that some prepositions are complementizer-like.

                                                                                        • Becker, A. L., and D. G. Arms. 1969. Prepositions as predicates. In Papers from the Fifth Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society. Edited by Robert I. Binnick, Alice Davison, Georgia M. Green, and Jerry L. Morgan, 1–11. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago.

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                                                                                          Asserts that prepositions have much in common with verbs and are predicates at an underlying level. Evidence adduced includes the facts that verbs in some languages are equivalent to English prepositions, that prepositions can be used as imperatives (e.g. “Out, out, damned spot!” [p. 7]), and that it is possible for prepositions to be intransitive.

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                                                                                          • Booth, Curtis G. 1979. Postpositions as verbs in Kawaiisu. International Journal of American Linguistics 45.3: 245–250.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1086/465596Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            It is not unusual for verb forms to be grammaticalized into adpositions; the situation reported on in this paper could be seen as the reverse of this: postpositions in the Uto-Aztecan language Kawaiisu occur as verbs (with the addition of two suffixes, one of which is aspectual). Booth maintains that verbs and postpositions are still distinct classes in this language.

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                                                                                            • Cook, Kenneth William. 1999. Hawaiian he, ‘o, and i: Copular verbs, prepositions, or determiners? Oceanic Linguistics 38.1: 43–65.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/3623392Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              The Hawaiian words he, ‘o, and i have been placed in various classes: in the “traditional analysis” (p. 43), the last of these is a preposition, but all of them have also been classified as copular verbs. Cook disagrees with the latter claim, stating that i is a preposition and ‘o is a “copular (i.e., predicative) preposition” (p. 44).

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                                                                                              • Leonard, William Patrick. 1997. The syntax of weak prepositions: Lexical constraints and lexical dependencies in English and Romance. PhD diss., Univ. of California, Los Angeles.

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                                                                                                Leonard uses the term “weak prepositions” for prepositions with no descriptive content, such as “of,” in “the destruction of the city (p. 13). He claims that these words have something of the nature of complementizers.

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                                                                                                • Li, Charles N., and Sandra A. Thompson. 1974. Co-verbs in Mandarin Chinese: Verbs or prepositions? Journal of Chinese Linguistics 2.3: 257–278.

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                                                                                                  Chinese has words known as co-verbs, such as zài (at), which are prepositions from a semantic point of view but have the same form as verbs. There has been much debate on which word class they belong to. This paper argues that they are prepositions. A brief mention is made of similar words in West African languages.

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                                                                                                  • Libert, Alan Reed. 2013. Adpositions and other parts of speech. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.3726/978-3-653-03682-4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    Mainly an examination of what previous authors have said about the classification of items as adpositions or nouns, adpositions or verbs, and so on. Looks at the use of terms such as quasi-preposition, pseudo-postposition, prepositional verb, and prepositional adverb.

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                                                                                                    • Muriungi, Peter. 2006. Categorizing adpositions in Kîîtharaka. Nordlyd: Tromsø Working Papers in Linguistics 33.1: 26–48.

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                                                                                                      Kîîtharaka (a Bantu language spoken in Kenya) has two kinds of (apparent) adpositions. Muriungi asserts that three of them, including na (with), are indeed adpositions, while others, such as rungu (under), which have some characteristics of nouns, represent “a kind of hybrid lexical category between N and P” (p. 46), but “are phrasal adpositions” (p. 26), or “condensed PPs” (p. 42).

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                                                                                                      • Svenonius, Peter. 2006. The emergence of axial parts. Nordlyd: Tromsø Working Papers in Linguistics 33.1: 49–77.

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                                                                                                        Posits a class of item, the axial part (e.g., “front” in “in front of the car”([p. 52]), and argues that axial parts are not nouns, though they resemble them in some ways, nor are they adpositions. Their “semantic function” is “to identify a region based on the Ground element” (“the car” in this example; p. 52). The notion of axial part has been adopted by many authors in the analysis of various languages.

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                                                                                                        Adpositions and Adverbs

                                                                                                        Adpositions and adverbs are similar in some respects, and some authorshave argued that they make up a single class (see, for example, Mackenzie 2001). Other authors maintain a difference and place items in one class or the other. Dietrich 1960 classifies many English words (or occurrences of them) as adpositions or adverbs. Lee 1999 also looks at English, specifically at whether some putative adverbs are adpositions (but intransitive ones). (See also Boertien 1997, cited under Morphology.)

                                                                                                        • Dietrich, Gerhard. 1960. Adverb oder Präposition?: Zu einem klärungsbedürftigen Kapitel der englischen Grammatik. Halle (Saale), Germany: VEB Max Niemeyer Verlag.

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                                                                                                          Most of this book contains uses of English “particles” as prepositions or adverbs (after discussions of the “relation” and “difference” between these classes), including in expressions with verbs, as in “to paw over”: “over” in “paw over my limbs” is a preposition, while in “to paw things over” it is an adverb (p. 104). Contains many examples from literature, and from grammars and the Oxford English Dictionary, and so is a useful source of data, even if one disagrees with some of the classifications.

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                                                                                                          • Lee, David. 1999. Intransitive prepositions: Are they viable? In The clause in English: In honour of Rodney Huddleston. Edited by Peter Collins and David Lee, 133–147. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

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                                                                                                            Explores the possibility that various English words, traditionally seen as adverbs (e.g., aboard, away, here, now) are prepositions, but states that it is “an unanswerable question” (p. 134) which of these two classes they belong to. An “emergence theory of category structure” (p. 144), in which word classes are not necessarily internally similar to the same extent, may be able to handle the issue.

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                                                                                                            • Mackenzie, J. Lachlan. 2001. Adverbs and adpositions: The Cinderella categories of functional grammar. Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 42:119–135.

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                                                                                                              Argues, against an earlier view in the functional grammar framework (of Simon Dik), that adverbs are a predicate class, and that adpositions belong to this class, which is called Ad. Evidence includes the homonymy of some prepositions and adverbs (e.g., below), and the fact that both types of word can take the same sorts of modifiers (e.g., far back and far behind the others [p. 131]).

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                                                                                                              Phonetics and Phonology

                                                                                                              Few works have been written specifically on the phonetics and phonology of prepositions (although the subjects will come up in more general works). A large proportion of them are about stress, including the two listed below. Both Doodkorte and Zandvoort 1962 and Cruttenden and Faber 1991 attempt to account for stress on prepositions in English, but come up with some different reasons for it.

                                                                                                              • Cruttenden, Alan, and David Faber. 1991. The accentuation of prepositions. Journal of Pragmatics 15:265–286.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1016/0378-2166(91)90014-OSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                Looks at ideas on the circumstances under which (English) prepositions receive stress. Among these ideas are stress to create cohesion, stress to emphasize the semantic role of the object of a preposition, and stress on prepositions “simply to highlight their meaning,” under the assumption that they are lexical, rather than functional, words.

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                                                                                                                • Doodkorte, A. C. J., and R. W. Zandvoort. 1962. On the stressing of prepositions. English Studies 43.1–6: 96–102.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/00138386208597115Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  Discusses what is behind the placement of stress on monosyllabic English prepositions, using data from BBC radio programs. A frequent cause is stated to be the anaphoricity of the phrase headed by the preposition, as in “The Queen made a speech of welcome and in that speech she mentioned two things” (p. 98).

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                                                                                                                  Morphology

                                                                                                                  Perhaps the most discussed topic in the morphology of adpositions concerns the inflection that they may take in some languages (in spite of the fact that some authors have stated that adpositions take no inflection; see, for example, Schaeder 2000, cited under Entries in Linguistic Dictionaries and Encyclopedias); Bakker 2013 and Napoli and Nevis 1987 are on different types of adpositional inflection. Another issue that comes up is the morphological status of adpositions (i.e., are they, or can they become, affixes?), which relates to grammaticalization (see Grammaticalization and Adpositions); Kabak 2006 treats this matter. Headedness (right- or left-headed) is an issue that comes up in morphology (and in syntax); in general, English favors right-headedness for compound words, but Boertien 1997 discusses some words that he claims are prepositional compounds and left-headed.

                                                                                                                  • Bakker, Dik. 2013. Person marking on adpositions. In The world atlas of language structures online. Edited by Matthew S. Dryer and Martin Haspelmath. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

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                                                                                                                    Person marking on adpositions is unusual from an Indo-European viewpoint, but arguably occurs in some other languages. Bakker gives figures for a survey on this, the categories being languages without adpositions (p. 63), languages with adpositions but no person marking on them (p. 209), languages with “[p]erson marking for pronouns only” (p. 83), and languages with “[person] marking for pronouns and nouns” (p. 23). These figures indicate that a fair proportion of languages have adpositions inflected for person.

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                                                                                                                    • Boertien, Harmon. 1997. Left-headed compound prepositions. Linguistic Inquiry 28.4: 689–697.

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                                                                                                                      Asserts that words such as uphill, downstairs, and off-Broadway are prepositions, not adverbs or adjectives, and that they are left-headed compounds.

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                                                                                                                      • Kabak, Barış. 2006. An obstacle to the morphologization of postpositions. Studies in Language 30.1: 33–68.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1075/sl.30.1.03kabSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        Adpositions can be grammaticalized out of words of other classes, and can become further grammaticalized into other items, including case affixes; if they become affixes their morphological status changes, as they are no longer separate words. This paper argues that if a postposition has an object with non-zero case marking (as often, but not always, happens in Turkish), that case marking is an “obstacle” to the conversion of the postposition into a suffix. This goes against the Linear Fusion Hypothesis of Joan Bybee.

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                                                                                                                        • Napoli, Donna Jo, and Joel Nevis. 1987. Inflected prepositions in Italian. Phonology Yearbook 4:195–209.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/S0952675700000828Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          In Italian, most monosyllabic prepositions have forms that appear to include an article (the latter bearing gender and number marking), such as nella “in the” (fem. sg.) (from ne + la). This paper argues that such forms are “inflected prepositions.” From a synchronic point of view, they do not arise from a morphological or other process.

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                                                                                                                          Syntax

                                                                                                                          The most studied syntactic aspect of adpositions, at least in the generative grammar tradition, is preposition stranding (e.g., Who(m) did you come with, as opposed to With whom did you come?, the latter sentence involving what is called pied-piping). Some works that deal with this topic are not (mainly) about prepositions, and will not be presented here, but there are papers on preposition stranding, and on other issues of the syntax of adpositions. Another common topic is case assignment by adpositions, or the case on complements of adpositions.

                                                                                                                          Preposition Stranding

                                                                                                                          Preposition stranding is a fairly recent term, but the phenomenon that it names had been recognized earlier, and frowned upon prescriptively. Charnley 1949 is a pre-generative discussion of it, and, one might say, an anti-prescriptive one. Preposition stranding occurs in English, but not in most other languages; Hornstein and Weinberg 1981 give an account of it within the Government-Binding framework, while Hoffman 2011 uses corpus data (and speaker intuitions) to compare native and nonnative English. Campos 1991 examines the possibility of preposition stranding occurring in Spanish.

                                                                                                                          • Campos, Héctor. 1991. Preposition stranding in Spanish? Linguistic Inquiry 22.4: 741–750.

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                                                                                                                            Preposition stranding is often thought of as a Germanic phenomenon; Campos looks at some possible instances in Spanish, such as La pastelería de la cual vivo detrás (the pastry shop of which I live behind) (p. 741). Whether preposition stranding is involved depends on whether words such as detrás are prepositions; for Campos they are not.

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                                                                                                                            • Charnley, M. Bertens. 1949. The syntax of deferred prepositions. American Speech 24.4: 268–277.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/453048Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Notable because it is an early treatment of (what is now called) preposition stranding. Looks at interrogative, relative, and passive clauses. Argues against the prescriptive ban on clause-final prepositions, brings up stylistic “advantage[s]” of preposition stranding, and gives examples from English literature.

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                                                                                                                              • Hoffman, Thomas. 2011. Preposition placement in English: A usage-based approach. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                Contains statistical data from both corpora and speaker judgements on preposition stranding versus pied-piping in various constructions, from British native speakers and Kenyan nonnative speakers. Among the findings is the fact that among the latter, “preposition-stranding . . . is less productive” (p. 224). The analysis is given within a “Usage-Based HPSG Construction Grammar” (p. 236) framework.

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                                                                                                                                • Hornstein, Norbert, and Amy Weinberg. 1981. Case theory and preposition stranding. Linguistic Inquiry 12.1: 55–91.

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                                                                                                                                  An influential account of the occurrence and nonoccurrence of preposition stranding, based on case marking and “reanalysis” (creating a “complex verb” from a verb and an immediately following item). The latter is language-specific, being a rule of English but not of French, for example.

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                                                                                                                                  Other Syntactic Issues

                                                                                                                                  Another commonly discussed issue is case assignment, or government by adpositions. This can often be complex, with different adpositions in a language requiring different cases, or the same adposition requiring different cases in different situations. Abraham 2003 looks at German prepositions that are generally thought to require two cases, and concludes that they do not. Rooryck 1996 discusses how adpositional case government can be treated within the minimalist framework. Kayne 2004 is another treatment of (some) adpositions within minimalism. A major part of generative syntactic theory, including minimalism, over the decades has been the posited movement of various constituents; van Riemsdijk 1978 treats several aspects of adpositional syntax, including the movement of constituents of preposition phrases. Phrase structure and word order are major parts of syntax: Jackendoff 1974 examines the structures of preposition phrases, including the range of possible complements of an adposition, while Colman 1991 looks at word order possibilities for adpositions in Old English, specifically at the extent to which adpositions follow their complement. A related matter is collocation with adpositions, which Hardie 2008 looks at with respect to English and Nepali. Two papers listed here deal with unusual phenomena involving multiple adpositional occurrences: Klenin 1989 on preposition repetition, and Aelbrecht and Dikken 2013 on preposition doubling.

                                                                                                                                  • Abraham, Werner. 2003. The myth of doubly governing prepositions in German. In Motion, direction and location in languages. Edited by Erin Shay and Uwe Siebert, 19–38. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

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                                                                                                                                    According to most descriptions, in German, as in some other Indo-European languages, some prepositions take dative or accusative objects, depending on whether they have a meaning involving location or motion. Abraham asserts that such statements are incorrect: the prepositions in question only assign dative case, and the accusative that appears on some objects is due rather to a (possibly phonetically empty) particle associated with the verb.

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                                                                                                                                    • Aelbrecht, Lobke, and Marcel den Dikken. 2013. Preposition doubling in Flemish and its implications for the syntax of Dutch PPs. Journal of Comparative German Linguistics 16:33–68.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1007/s10828-013-9054-2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Preposition doubling (not to be confused with preposition repetition; see Klenin 1989) is when the same adposition occurs both before and after its complement, as with uit (out) in Hij komt uit zijn kamer niet uit (He never leaves his room) (Asse [Belgium] Dutch, p. 35). This paper argues that the second occurrence of such items is indeed an adposition, discusses characteristics of the phenomenon in Flemish, and gives an account for it involving an articulated PP.

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                                                                                                                                      • Colman, Fran. 1991. What positions fit in? In Historical English syntax. Edited by Dieter Kastovsky, 51–102. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

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                                                                                                                                        Presents and discusses possible examples of postpositions in Old English; argues that a large number of them are not postpositions, and thus that “Old English is not as postpositional as it may seem” (p. 99).

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                                                                                                                                        • Hardie, Andrew. 2008. Collocational properties of adpositions in Nepali and English. In Proceedings of the Corpus Linguistics Conference, CL2007. Birmingham, UK: Univ. of Birmingham.

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                                                                                                                                          Collocation and adpositions are rarely discussed. This paper presents data from corpora on items co-occurring with several English and Nepali adpositions. These data indicate that “adpositions as a category [can] be characterised solely in terms of their collocational properties” (p. 14): there are two “collocational patterns” (p. 1), and being involved in them could be seen as the defining property of adpositions.

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                                                                                                                                          • Jackendoff, Ray S. 1974. The base rules for prepositional phrases. In A Festschrift for Morris Halle. Edited by Stephen R. Anderson and Paul Kiparsky, 345–356. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

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                                                                                                                                            An early and widely cited generative paper on adpositional phrases. Asserts that “people seem never to have taken prepositions seriously” (p. 345), because the structure of the phrases they head is thought to be very simple (P NP). Claims that there are other possibilities, such as PPs containing intransitive prepositions and PPs consisting of a preposition and a PP.

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                                                                                                                                            • Kayne, Richard S. 2004. Prepositions as probes. In Structures and beyond: The cartography of syntactic structures. Vol. 3. Edited by Adriana Belletti, 192–212. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                              Asserts that a subset of adpositions, in particular the French à which introduces causees, have the status of a probe, which in minimalist terms means one type of item involved in agreement, the trigger for movement, the other type of item (the one undergoing movement) being the goal. In this case the goal is the verb phrase.

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                                                                                                                                              • Klenin, Emily. 1989. On preposition repetition: A Study in the history of syntactic government in Old Russian. Russian Linguistics 13.3: 185–206.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1007/BF02527970Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                An unusual feature of earlier stages of Russian is preposition repetition (not to be confused with preposition doubling): a preposition occurs before more than one member of its complement, somewhat like case agreement, as in в село в Туовъ “to the village (of) Turov” (p. 185). This paper analyzes preposition repetition using examples from the Laurentian Manuscript (1377), which had not been considered in some earlier work on the subject.

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                                                                                                                                                • Rooryck, Johan. 1996. Prepositions and minimalist case marking. In Studies in comparative Germanic syntax. Vol. 2. Edited by Höskuldur Thräinsson, Samuel David Epstein, and Steve Peter, 226–256. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.

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                                                                                                                                                  Looks at how adpositional case assignment could be treated in the minimalist program. If PPs have an articulated structure, in which the PP is dominated by a functional phrase, case assignment in PPs can take place through spec-head agreement, thus being similar to other structural case assignment in minimalism.

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                                                                                                                                                  • van Riemsdijk, Henk C. 1978. A case study in syntactic markedness: The binding nature of prepositional phrases. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Foris.

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                                                                                                                                                    Another early (and widely cited) generative work on adpositions. Deals with various aspects of (English and Dutch) prepositional syntax, particularly movement of items from prepositional phrases.

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                                                                                                                                                    Semantics and Pragmatics

                                                                                                                                                    As shown in the section Collections of Papers, the semantics of prepositions is a popular subject. The works listed here involve both formal (Cresswell 1978, Zwarts and Winter 2000) and nonformal (Bennett 1975; Levinson, et al. 2003; Cervoni 1991) approaches to semantics. The pragmatics of prepositions has been less studied, and not many works focus on it exclusively, but Cervoni 1991 and Djenar 2007 devote some space to it.

                                                                                                                                                    • Bennett, David C. 1975. Spatial and temporal uses of English prepositions: An essay in stratificational semantics. London: Longman.

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                                                                                                                                                      Partly of historical interest in that it uses two frameworks that are not currently very popular: case grammar and stratificational grammar. However, it is a widely cited work, including in works in other frameworks, and may give some idea of the complexity of the semantics of some English prepositions (e.g. at and on).

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                                                                                                                                                      • Cervoni, Jean. 1991. La préposition: Étude sémantique et pragmatique. Paris: Éditions Duculot.

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                                                                                                                                                        Uses a modified version of the psychomechanics (Guillaumian) framework and only treats French prepositions. Matters dealt with include defining the class of prepositions, “empty” prepositions, various schemas for describing the meanings of some French prepositions, describing prepositions in terms of case grammar, prepositional deixis, and pragmatic factors determining the use of one preposition rather than another.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Cresswell, M. J. 1978. Prepositions and points of view. Linguistics and Philosophy 2.1: 1–41.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/BF00365129Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          A formal semantic treatment of a preposition: it describes the meaning of expressions containing across in a lambda-categorial calculus (a type of system that Cresswell had previously developed). In nonformal terms, it asserts that the meaning of across and other spatial prepositions frequently includes “a hypothetical journey” to the indicated location (p. 2).

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                                                                                                                                                          • Djenar, Dwi Noverini. 2007. Semantic, pragmatic and discourse perspectives of preposition use: A study of Indonesian locatives. Canberra, Australia: Pacific Linguistics.

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                                                                                                                                                            A detailed examination of the meanings of the Indonesian prepositions di, pada, and dalam, which can be difficult to distinguish in terms of their semantics (e.g., each of them can be equivalent to English in in certain contexts).

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                                                                                                                                                            • Levinson, Stephen, Sérgio Meira, and the Language and Cognition Group. 2003. “Natural concepts” in the spatial topological domain—Adpositional meanings in crosslinguistic perspective: An exercise in semantic typology. Language 79.3: 485–516.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1353/lan.2003.0174Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              Examines the extent of universality involving meanings of spatial adpositions and relationships among these meanings. Data (answers to questions involving pictures) were gathered from speakers of nine languages, including Basque, Dutch, Ewe, and Lao. There may be some universality with respect to the relationships, but not with respect to most of the meanings themselves.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Zwarts, Joost, and Yoad Winter. 2000. Vector space semantics: A model-theoretic analysis of locative prepositions. Journal of Logic, Language, and Information 9.2: 169–211.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1023/A:1008384416604Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                A discussion of the meanings of locative prepositions and their projections in vector space semantics; some space is also given to directional prepositions. The underlying idea is that “vectors are the primitive spatial entity in models of natural language” (p. 173). Some intriguing claims are made about types of meanings that prepositions can(not) have.

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                                                                                                                                                                Acquisition of Adpositions

                                                                                                                                                                Adpositions are, one might say, difficult to acquire for both native and nonnative speakers—they are not among the earliest appearing items for native speakers, and even fluent nonnative speakers have trouble with the choice and use of some of them. The works listed below show some of the research done on the acquisition of adpositions. Durkin 1981 shows that full control of adpositions comes relatively late in the process of first-language acquisition; Rice 2003 looks at the acquisition of different senses of the same adposition rather than comparing the acquisition of different adpositions. Rankin and Schiftner 2011 deal with the uses of some “marginal” prepositions by nonnative speakers of English; the results show the difficulty of mastering the system of adpositions in a second language.

                                                                                                                                                                • Durkin, Keven. 1981. Aspects of late language acquisition: School children’s use and comprehension of prepositions. First Language 2.4: 47–59.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/014272378100200404Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Although prepositions appear in the language of young children, it takes some time for them to master this word class. This paper summarizes some previous research on prepositions in child language and reports on an experiment on how well children (in four groups of different ages, with mean ages going from 44.7 months to 89.5 months) understood instructions containing between. Results indicate that the acquisition of this preposition is not completed “until quite late” (p. 55).

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Rankin, Tom, and Barbara Schiftner. 2011. Marginal prepositions in learner English: Applying local corpus data. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 16.3: 412–434.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1075/ijcl.16.3.07ranSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    Looks at occurrences of prepositions such as concerning, regarding, and with respect to in the English of native speakers of German; these deviate from what happens in the English of native speakers.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Rice, Sally. 2003. Growth of a lexical network: Nine English prepositions in acquisition. In Cognitive approaches to lexical semantics. Edited by Hubert Cuyckens, René Dirven, and John R. Taylor, 243–280. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1515/9783110219074.243Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      Looks at the acquisition of various senses of several English prepositions (including in, on, at, to, by, and of) by two children; as Rice points out, such research is rare. Uses the cognitive linguistics framework. The results were complex; the order of appearance of senses of a preposition did not only depend on meaning.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Grammaticalization and Adpositions

                                                                                                                                                                      Many or most adpositions probably arose through the process of grammaticalization. The role of grammaticalization has thus been the subject of some studies, including those listed in this section. The fact that grammaticalization is not an overnight process is connected with the difficulty of classifying some words as adpositions or as something else, as they may only have acquired some of the properties of adpositions, and thus grammaticalization can also come up in works such as those listed in the section on Issues of Classification. Bohoussou and Skopeteas 2008 are also concerned with classification, as the some of the words that they examine have not completed the process of grammaticalization. Rubba 1994 takes a different view on grammaticalization than most studies, attributing a semantic nature to it. Grammaticalization does not take place in isolation; Kortmann and König 1991 look at other processes going along with the conversion of verbs into adpositions; unlike Rubba, they view grammaticalization as syntactic, since categorial feature values are altered. Grammaticalization is not a uniform process, even across closely related languages, as shown by Fagard and Mardale 2012. While words can be grammaticalized into adpositions, they can also be grammaticalized further, becoming adpositions with more grammatical meanings or becoming another type of item. See Kabak 2006 (cited under Morphology) for an example of the latter type of process; Fu and Xu 2008 discuss an intriguing example of the former process.

                                                                                                                                                                      • Bohoussou, Amani, and Stavros Skopeteas. 2008. Grammaticalization of spatial adpositions in Nànáfwê. In Studies on grammaticalization. Edited by Elisabeth Verhoeven, Stavros Skopeteas, Yong-Min Shin, Yoko Nishina, and Johannes Helmbrecht, 77–104. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1515/9783110211764.2.77Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        Examines whether some words of Nànáfwê (a Niger-Congo language of the Ivory Coast) originating as verbs or as nouns have become adpositions. The former have not; the latter are at “an incipient stage of grammaticalization to adpositions” (p. 99). Thus, this article provides examples of the kinds of arguments and data that could be used for or against adpositional status.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Fagard, Benjamin, and Alexandru Mardale. 2012. The pace of grammaticalization and the evolution of prepositional systems: Data from Romance. Folia Linguistica 46.2: 303–340.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1515/flin.2012.011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          Grammaticalization does not take place at a fixed rate; for one thing, in different daughters of the same mother language, grammaticalization processes can work at different speeds. This paper looks at grammaticalization into prepositions in five Romance languages, examining, for example, which languages have more prepositions, and more prepositions that are not homonymous with words of other classes. French is found to have the greatest extent of this kind of grammaticalization.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Fu, Jingqi, and Lin Xu. 2008. From locative to object markers: The parallel development of two postpositions in Bai. In Space in languages of China. Edited by Dan Xu, 119–141. Dordrecht: Springer.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4020-8321-1_6Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            The postpositions -no33 and -ŋy55 in the Sino-Tibetan language Bai both convey a locational meaning—“on” and “around/near,” respectively. They have undergone a parallel process of grammaticalization, but with different results, which is an unusual occurrence: they can both act as object markers, no33 indicating a “closer location/participant”, ŋy55 a “further location/participant” (p. 139); the difference between their object marking functions is linked to the difference in their locational meaning.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Kortmann, Bernd, and Ekkehard König. 1991. Categorial reanalysis: The case of deverbal prepositions. Linguistics 30:671–697.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1515/ling.1992.30.4.671Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              Focusing on English and French, discusses processes concomitant with the grammaticalization of verbs into prepositions (e.g., a shift in word order) and the place of deverbal prepositions among prepositions in general (they are “marginal” [p. 683]). Also looks at this type of grammaticalization as “a change in feature specification” (p. 685) and the types of paths it takes in terms of semantics.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Rubba, Jo. 1994. Grammaticization as semantic change. In Perspectives on grammaticalization. Edited by William Pagliuca, 81–101. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Using data from Aramaic and related languages, follows the course of grammaticalization of some items from relational nouns into prepositions, arguing that it is semantic in nature, and further that what has been seen as semantic bleaching is in fact partly a process of “[s]emantic gain” (p. 98). Thus Rubba presents a picture of grammaticalization somewhat different from the usual one.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Language Contact and Adpositions

                                                                                                                                                                                Adpositional systems, like other parts of language, can be affected by language contact, although few studies are devoted to such effects. The effects can be of various sorts. For one thing, the preferred linear order of adpositions relative to their complements could be changed; Ehala 1994 and Ramírez-Trujillo 2009 look at this sort of change, but in both cases the conclusion is that the situation is not as simple as it might appear at first. Another sort of change involves the possibility of preposition stranding; this appears to occur in Canadian French, which one might think is due to English influence, though Poplack, et al. 2012 assert that this is not the case.

                                                                                                                                                                                • Ehala, Martin. 1994. Russian influence and the change in progress in the Estonian adpositional system. Linguistica Uralica 30.3: 177–193.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  The Finno-Ugric languages are postpositional, but Estonian and other Balto-Finnic languages have prepositions as well as postpositions. This difference has been said to be due to contact with Russian. Ehala argues that this view is “oversimplified” (p. 177), based on statistics on adpositional occurrences in 1905, 1972, and 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Poplack, Shana, Lauren Zentz, and Natalie Dion. 2012. Phrase-final prepositions in Quebec French: An empirical study of contact, code-switching and resistance to convergence. Bilingualism 15.2: 203–225.

                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/S1366728911000204Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    Preposition stranding is viewed as a Germanic phenomenon. However, it can be found in Canadian French, as in J’avais pas personne à parler avec (I had no one to talk to) (p. 204). This paper looks at factors making it more or less likely to occur, and whether it is due to movement toward English. The (surprising) conclusion is that it is not, but rather is due to a French construction, preposition orphaning. (Several other papers in this journal issue also deal with preposition stranding/orphaning in French.)

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Ramírez-Trujillo, Alma P. 2009. Spanish and Nahuatl convergence: The case of pre- and post-positions. In Proceedings of the 2009 Annual Conference of the Canadian Linguistic Association. Edited by Frédéric Mailhot. Ottawa, ON: Carleton Univ.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Classical Nahuatl favored postpositions over prepositions, while in the current stage of the language the latter are chosen more often. This is due to contact with Spanish, but since there were prepositions in the classical language, Ramírez-Trujillo says that the process involved was convergence rather than transference.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Neurolinguistics and Adpositions

                                                                                                                                                                                      There has been debate about whether (some) adpositions are lexical or function in nature; see, for example, Déchaine 2005, cited under Other General Works. For this reason they are of interest to neurolinguistics, since different types of aphasia differ in whether their primary effects are on the grammatical/syntactic parts of language, and neurolinguistic evidence could be used in this debate. This is what Froud 2001 does, with her results indicating that adpositions pattern with functional items. The lexical-function split is related to, if not the same as, the distinction between syntactically or lexically required adpositions and adpositions appearing only for semantic reasons; Friederici 1982 and Grodzinsky 1988 discuss how different types of aphasics handled adpositions classified along the latter lines. The research of Tranel and Kemmerer 2004 is of a different nature, as it attempts to locate areas of the brain connected with the understanding of a type of preposition. Such work seems promising for the future.

                                                                                                                                                                                      • Friederici, Angela D. 1982. Syntactic and semantic processes in aphasic deficits: The availability of prepositions. Brain and Language 15.2: 249–258.

                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1016/0093-934X(82)90059-1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        Reports on the performance of twenty-four German-speaking aphasics (half with Broca’s aphasia and half with Wernicke’s aphasia) in producing “missing” prepositions and in judging spoken sentences containing prepositions. Aphasics of both types did better on the latter task, but there were differences with the former, depending on whether the preposition gave semantic information or was simply required by a verb: Broca’s aphasics had more trouble with “obligatory prepositions” (p. 252), while Wernicke’s aphasics made more errors with the semantically used ones.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Froud, Karen. 2001. Prepositions and the lexical/functional divide: Aphasic evidence. Lingua 111.1: 1–28.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1016/S0024-3841(00)00026-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          It can be difficult to determine whether certain adpositions are lexical or functional in nature. This paper uses data from an aphasic whose abilities with functional items and with lexical items were markedly different. His performance with prepositions (including those indicating locations) was like that with functional items, which may have implications for how we should conceive of the lexical-functional split.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Grodzinsky, Yosef. 1988. Syntactic representations in agrammatic aphasia: The case of prepositions. Language and Speech 31.2: 115–134.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1177/002383098803100202Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            Reports on an experiment on how agrammatic aphasics, fluent aphasics, and normal subjects reacted to correct and incorrect prepositions in several English sentences. The results indicated that agrammatic aphasics can handle some, but not all prepositions; specifically, prepositions which were governed (in the GB-theory sense) were more difficult. Some later research by other authors does not support this conclusion.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Tranel, Daniel, and David Kemmerer. 2004. Neuroanatomical correlates of locative prepositions. Cognitive Neuropsychology 21.7: 719–749.

                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/02643290342000627Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              Neurolinguists have rarely attempted to determine which parts of the brain are involved in processing adpositions; this paper does this with respect to English prepositions with local meanings. Two sets of experiments were carried out (e.g., subjects had to identify the preposition denoting the spatial relationship shown in a picture). Given the results, it seems that the left inferior prefrontal and parietal regions of the brain are important for handling this type of preposition.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Works on Particular Types of Adposition

                                                                                                                                                                                              Adpositions can be classified in various ways: by their kind of meaning (e.g., temporal adpositions), by position in relation to their complement (e.g., prepositions, postpositions), by the type of word that they developed from (e.g., denominal adpositions), and so on. The works in this section focus on one type of adposition. The papers in Cinque and Rizzi 2010 treat phrases headed by adpositions with a certain type of meaning (spatial meaning). Regarding adpositions classified according to position, Libert 2006 is one of the few works on ambipositions, and Milićević 2005 may be the only publication on what she calls midpositions. Adpositions can also be classified as simple or complex; Vestergaard 1973 looks at the latter type. Most adpositions, like most or all nouns, verbs, and adjectives, are heads of phrases; van Eynde 2004 looks at those that are not, labelling them minor adpositions. Meira 2004 discusses a type of adposition that is exotic in terms of meaning, the mental state postposition. Zwart 2005 is concerned with adpositions that lack lexical meaning, or functional adpositions, as he calls them.

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Cinque, Guglielmo, and Luigi Rizzi, eds. 2010. Mapping spatial PPs. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Deals with some features of the syntax and semantics of locational and directional PPs, to a large extent concentrating on “the fine-grained articulation of their internal structure” (p. 3) from a generative point of view. Languages discussed include Dutch, English, Modern Greek, the African language Gungbe, and German.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Libert, Alan. 2006. Ambipositions. Munich: Lincom Europa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  As stated in the introduction, ambipositions are adpositions that can be placed before or after their object; they have also been called bipositional adpositions, while ambiposition has also been used to refer to circumpositions. This book is a survey of ambipositions, and it looks at different types, including those with different case marking behavior depending on position, and those with different meaning possibilities depending on position.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Meira, Sérgio. 2004. Mental state postpositions in Tiriyó and other Cariban languages. Linguistic Typology 8:213–241.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1515/lity.2004.006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The counterparts of the English verbs “to love,” “to know,” and so on are also verbs in many languages, or constructions containing nouns or adjectives. This paper discusses the equivalent words of Tiriyó, a language of the border area between Brazil and Surinam; these words are striking because they could be classified as postpositions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Milićević, Nataša. 2005. The case of midpositions. In Organizing grammar. Edited by Hans Broekhuis, Norbert Corver, Riny Huybregts, Ursula Kleinhenz, and Jan Koster, 424–433. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Milićević’s midpositions are adpositions that occur (on the surface) inside DPs, such as “of” in “a picture of John” (p. 242). She focuses on midpositions occurring in phrases such as “problem after problem” (p. 242), which have various odd properties. In her account, “after” is the head (F0) of a functional projection, and is not a coordinator.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • van Eynde, Frank. 2004. Minor adpositions in Dutch. Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 7.1: 1–58.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1023/B:JCOM.0000003545.77976.64Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Van Eynde uses the term minor adpositions for adpositions that, according to him, do not head preposition phrases (unlike most adpositions), such as Dutch van (of) in some of its occurrences. The implications of this analysis go well beyond the realm of adpositions, since it goes against the trend of positing phrases for various functional categories, such as DP (determiner phrase).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Vestergaard, Torben. 1973. On the open-endedness of the form-class “preposition” in English. English Studies 54.2: 148–163.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/00138387308597549Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Some authors have asserted that adpositions are a closed class, but new adpositions can be created. One way in which this can happen is through the joining or two or more words to create a complex adposition. Vestergaard examines English sequences of a particle followed by a preposition (e.g., out of) to determine which of them can be classified as complex prepositions (to be distinguished in particular from sequences in which the particle of a phrasal verb precedes a preposition).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Zwart, Jan-Wouter. 2005. A note on functional adpositions. In Organizing grammar. Edited by Hans Broekhuis, Norbert Corver, Riny Huybregts, Ursula Kleinhenz, and Jan Koster, 689–695. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            For Zwart, a functional adposition is one without “referential content”, such as “of” in “the city of Boston” (p. 689). Zwart looks at examples of such adpositions, which generally seem to be prepositions rather than postpositions, such as the “all-purpose dependency marking particle” a of the Niger-Congo language Mende (p. 690).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Works on Adpositions in Single Languages or Language Families

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Of course, many grammars of languages give information about adpositions, and thus can be valuable resources for research on them. This section is restricted to works specifically about adpositions in particular languages or language families. They represent only a small part of the work of this sort.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Indo-European Languages

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Works on adpositions in Indo-European languages are listed separately in this section, as these languages have received more attention than other groups of languages. Wilhelm 2001 discusses various aspects of the history of adpositions in several branches of this family. Bortone 2010, Sondergard 1953, and Dill 1986 are also concerned with diachronic issues—on Greek, Spanish, and English, respectively. Bøgholm 1920 deals with the history of English prepositions, but also with other issues. Much work has been done on Dutch adpositions, including in the minimalist framework; Helmantel 2002 is an example of this. Less work has been done on Persian adpositions, but Parsafar 1996 studies various aspects of them. The adpositions of Celtic languages are unusual in that they can be “conjugated”; Stalmaszczyk 2007 looks at this phenomenon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Bøgholm, N. 1920. English prepositions. Copenhagen: Gyldendalske Boghandel.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Examines many aspects of prepositions in different stages of English (and other languages), including stress, etymology, and meaning (from a diachronic viewpoint). Particularly interesting is the discussion of the effects of having a preposition after a verb that is normally or often transitive (e.g., border vs. border on).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Bortone, Pietro. 2010. Greek prepositions: From antiquity to the present. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199556854.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Although research on Ancient Greek prepositions has been going on for a long time, what is new about this book, according to Bortone, is its treatment of them through all stages of Greek since Homer. Deals with their semantics, origins, and the cases that they require. Mentions many other languages.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Dill, Lesa Beth. 1986. English prepositions: The history of a word class. PhD diss., Univ. of Georgia.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Looks at whether the use of prepositions has increased over the history of English, and concludes that it has not (although in particular eras it has increased or decreased), contrary to what one might think, given the decline in inflection in the language.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Helmantel, Marjon. 2002. Interactions in the Dutch adpositional domain. PhD diss., Leiden Univ.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A description in the minimalist framework of the “internal syntax” and the “exernal syntax” (p. 23) of Dutch adpositional phrases. The two are found to be connected. Semantic matters also come up to some extent, such as differences in meaning between prepositions and homophonous postpositions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Parsafar, Parviz. 1996. Spatial prepositions in modern Persian. PhD diss., Yale Univ.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An extensive work (644 pp.) on prepositions of a less well-studied Indo-European language. Looks at the notion preposition, and prepositions as opposed to some other parts of speech, such as conjunctions. The second volume is devoted to semantics, discussing both “true prepositions” and “pseudo-prepositions”; the latter are nouns from a syntactic point of view.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Sondergard, Robert E. 1953. The Spanish preposition. Hispania 36.1: 76–78.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.2307/334744Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A concise overview of the origin and development of Spanish prepositions, including semantic changes (both “extension of meaning” and “restriction of meaning” [p. 77]).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Stalmaszczyk, Piotr. 2007. Prepositional constructions in Celtic languages and Celtic Englishes. In The Celtic languages in contact. Edited by Hildegard L. C. Tristram, 126–145. Potsdam, Germany: Potsdam Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          An unusual type of word in Celtic languages is “conjungated prepositions,” or words that appear to be prepositions and take agreement endings as verbs do in languages such as Latin. This paper contains many examples of occurrences of these words, with particular interest in their use in marking possession.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Wilhelm, Christopher. 2001. The origin and development of adpositions and adpositional phrases in the Indo-European languages. PhD diss., Univ. of California, Los Angeles.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Deals mainly with several Anatolian languages (Hittite, Luwian, and Lycian), Umbrian, and Old Lithuanian. Looks at the linear relation of adpositions and their complement NPs, or the status of adpositions as prepositions or postpositions, and at changes in this status in Indo-European languages.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Non-Indo-European Languages

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Adpositions in many non-Indo-European languages have been studied, in some cases extensively, as with Uralic languages (e.g., Stoebke 1968). A fair amount of descriptive work has been done on adpositions of some Altaic languages, as shown in Alkaya 2002 and Buck 1955. Adpositions of Semitic languages have not been neglected, but most work has been done on Hebrew or Arabic; Werning 2012 is about the semantics of Ancient Egyptian adpositions, a less studied topic. Various papers have been written on adpositions of individual African languages, but Heine 1989 is a survey of the etymology of adpositions from a large number of languages on the continent. Not a huge amount of work has been devoted to adpositions in Amerindian languages; Pustet 2000 reports on a complicated situation involving Lakota adpositions. Dravidian adpositions have not received much attention, Mallassery 1994 being an exception. Finally, adpositions in sign languages also have not been much studied, and in fact their existence has (at least tacitly) been doubted; Pfau and Aboh 2012 fills in this gap in the literature.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Alkaya, Ercan. 2002. Kuzey grubu Türk lehçelerde edatlar. PhD diss. Fırat Univ. (Elazığ, Turkey).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Much descriptive linguistic work has been done in Turkey in recent decades, often in the form of theses. Unfortunately, this work may be little known outside the Turkic world, presumably because it is written in Turkish. This thesis contains a wealth of data (e.g., case marking, meaning) on postpositions of the languages of the Kipchak branch of Turkic (including Bashkir, (Kazan) Tatar, Kyrgyz, and Kazakh). It is not theoretically oriented, but such collections of data can be of value for theoretical investigations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Buck, Frederick Holden. 1955. Comparative study of postpositions in Mongolian dialects and in the written language. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.4159/harvard.9780674430150Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Discusses various aspects of the morphology and syntax of Mongolian postpositions, including which case(s) they govern. Contains many data.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Heine, Bernd. 1989. Adposition in African languages. Linguistique africaine 2:77–127.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Deals with the types of words from which adpositions with five meanings (“on,” “in,” “under,” “front,” “back”) are derived. Using data from 125 African languages, it was found that they most frequently come from terms for body parts (e.g., a word for “head” being used to express “on”).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Mallassery, S. Radhakrishnan. 1994. Postpositions in a Dravidian language: A transformational analysis of Malayalam. New Delhi: Mittal.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There are few works devoted to adpositions in any Dravidian languages. The theoretical framework used was far out of date at the time of publication, but this book contains a wealth of data. The postpositions are classified by the type of word from which they are derived. A set of “Criteria for Identifying Postpositions” (p. 135) is presented.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Pfau, Roland, and Enoch O. Aboh. 2012. On the syntax of spatial adpositions in sign languages. In Proceedings of IATL 27. Edited by Evan Cohen. Haifa: Israel Association for Theoretical Linguistics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Adpositions of sign languages are rarely examined, and indeed “it is commonly assumed” (p. 84) that they do not exist. Using data from Sign Language of the Netherlands, and other sign languages, the authors assert that indications of location in sign languages can involve two adpositions (in an articulated PP structure), as, they argue, also happens in some PPs of spoken languages. (Print version in MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 65.)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Pustet, Regina. 2000. Lakota Postpositions. International Journal of American Linguistics 66.2: 157–180.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1086/466416Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In the Siouan language Lakota, as in Celtic languages (see Stalmaszczyk 2007, cited under Indo-European Languages) adpositions can have person markings for their complements. However, the matter is complex, because the person marking can also be borne by the verb in the clause (or surface as a separate word). Different postpositions have different possibilities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Stoebke, Renate. 1968. Der Verhältniswörter in den Ostseefinnischen Sprachen. Bloomington: Indiana Univ.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The situation of adpositions in the Finnic languages (Finnish, Karelian, Estonian, Livonian, Votic, and Vepsian are treated in this book) is complicated: some of them can be either prepositions or postpositions, but sometimes with meaning differences or differences in the case of their complement. This book contains a wealth of examples showing these possibilities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Werning, Daniel A. 2012. Ancient Egyptian prepositions for the expression of spatial relations and their translations: A typological approach. In Lexical semantics in Ancient Egyptian. Edited by Eitan Grossman, Stéphane Polis, and Jean Winand, 293–346. Hamburg, Germany: Widmaier Verlag.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Examines the meanings of several Ancient Egyptian prepositions, and compares them to the meanings of (roughly) equivalent words in some modern languages, using informant judgements for the latter. Raises and deals with the interesting question of “to which extent native-speakers of one language are better prepared to grasp the meaning of Egyptian spatial prepositions than those of others” (p. 295).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Works on Particular Adpositions

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            At an even greater level of specificity are works devoted to one or several prepositions of a language. Although these might seem too narrow in scope to be of theoretical interest, useful data and insights can be contained in them, which might be valuable for broader work. This is only a small sample of such work, involving (in my view) interesting situations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Spanish Personal a

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In Spanish, and in some other Romance languages, direct objects can be preceded by a preposition, a in the case of Spanish. The conditions governing its appearance are quite complicated and much work has been devoted to this use of a. Hills 1920 gives an overview of relevant facts and writing on it. Guijarro-Fuentes and Marinis 2009 looks at the personal a from the point of view of second-language acquisition, and Alfaraz 2011 reports on a diachronic investigation of it in one dialect of Spanish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Alfaraz, Gabriela G. 2011. Accusative object marking: A change in progress in Cuban Spanish? Spanish in Context 8.2: 213–234.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1075/sic.8.2.0alfSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Looks at the occurrence of the personal a at two periods in Cuban Spanish, and at its occurrence in the language of speakers of two different age groups in the later period. Data indicate that its use is declining in this variety of Spanish.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Guijarro-Fuentes, Pedro, and Theodoros Marinis. 2009. The acquisition of the personal preposition a by Catalan-Spanish and English-Spanish bilinguals. In Selected proceedings of the 11th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium. Edited by Joseph Collentine, et al., 81–92. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As the circumstances under which the personal a appears are complex, one might expect acquisition of it to be difficult. This paper looks at the extent to which bilingual speakers of Spanish correctly used a in circumstances requiring it. Among the results was the fact that speakers whose first language was Catalan tended to err toward overuse of a, while native speakers of English more often erred in incorrectly leaving it out.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Hills, E. C. 1920. The accusative “A.” Hispania 3.4: 216–222.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/331251Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Includes a collection of previous remarks on the personal a, discusses how its use arose, and brings up equivalent prepositions in other Romance languages. Provides a useful summary of information on what was known and said about it until the time of writing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Other Adpositions

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The works listed below include some papers on English adpositions. Minugh 2002 is on notwithstanding, one of the few ambipositions of English. Lee 1998 and Mackenzie 2003 discuss the semantics of through and beyond respectively, both of which are polysemous, like many or most adpositions. Of is (arguably) highly polysemous; Cotte 1983 is an account for some of the facts. Near may not be polysemous, but the issue of exactly what is regarded as near seems to be complicated, as shown by the experiment presented in Costello and Kelleher 2006. The Greek preposition μετά (with, after) is polysemous; its long and complicated history is treated by Luraghi 2005. The main complexity of the Turkish postposition için (for) is syntactic, specifically the cases borne by its complement; Libert 2007 attempts to account for this. Dede 1999 discusses the Xining postposition [tɕia], which has an ablative meaning, and is unusual in the context of Chinese because of its position relative to its object.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Costello, Fintan, and John D. Kelleher. 2006. Spatial prepositions in context: The semantics of near in the presence of distractor objects. In Proceedings of the 3rd ACL-Sigsem Workshop on the Linguistic Dimensions of Prepositions and their Use in Computational Linguistics Formalisms and Applications. Edited by B. Arsenijevic, T. Baldwin, and B. Trawinski. Stroudsburg, PA: Association for Computational Linguistics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Reports on a fascinating experiment: subjects were asked to evaluate the acceptability of sentences such as “The blue square is near the green circle,” referring to items on a computer screen; usually there was also a third item present on the screen, a “distractor” (e.g., a red triangle). It was found that the distractor “reliably influences people’s proximity judgements.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Cotte, Pierre. 1983. Of et la modification. Sigma 7:95–113.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Attempts to explain some of the wide range of meaning of the preposition of as extensions of a basic meaning of “éloignement . . . à partir d’un origine” (movement away from a point of origin) (p. 95). The two extensions focused on are “extraction” and “modification.” Some space is devoted to the sentence “It was a sort of kettle” (p. 101) and similar sentences; it has two interpretations, each involving one of these extensions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Dede, Kenneth. 1999. An ablative postposition in the Xining dialect. Language Variation and Change 11:1–17.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/S0954394599111013Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Discusses the postposition [tɕia] of the Xining dialect of Chinese; it is of interest as it is the only postposition with an ablative meaning in any variety of Chinese, other dialects using a preposition to express this meaning. It appears to have been borrowed from the (unrelated) Mongolic language Monguor.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Lee, David. 1998. A tour through through. Journal of English Linguistics 26.4: 333.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/007542429802600404Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          An attempt within the cognitive linguistics framework to account for the varied meanings of through (e.g., its literal directional meaning, its figurative directional meaning in “Sue has gone through all the chocolates” [p. 333], and its instrumental meaning). It gives a localist account, based on the idea that “our thinking about abstract domains is grounded in our experience of physical space” (p. 334).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Libert, Alan Reed. 2007. A principles and parameters account of the case marking properties of the Turkish postposition için and its cognates in other Turkic languages. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 34:231–243.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The case marking behavior of the Turkish postposition için (for) is complex; for example, a complement headed by a noun will be in the absolute (or unmarked case), while some, but not all, pronominal complements will be in the genitive. The situation is still more complicated if one considers the cognate words in related languages. This paper attempts an explanation in diachronic terms, positing changes in the [±N, ±V] features of the word.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Luraghi, Silvia. 2005. The history of the Greek preposition μετά: From polysemy to the creation of homonyms. Glotta 81:130–159.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Looks at changes in the meanings of one Greek preposition, μετά, which meant “with” and “after” in the classical language, depending on the case of the object (genitive and accusative, respectively). In fact, this preposition became two prepositions in Byzantine Greek, μέ and μετά, each of which had one of the meanings of the classical word. Luraghi attributes this change to the simplification of the case system, with all prepositions taking objects in the same case, the accusative.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Mackenzie, J. Lachlan. 2003. One sense for beyond? Not beyond us. Belgian Journal of English Language and Literatures, n.s., 1:7–16.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Asserts that the basic meaning of beyond (as a preposition and adverb) is itinerative, involving “an itinerary leading from a deictic centre to some imprecise destination attainable via a provisional stopping point” (p. 15). Its other meanings can be seen as coming from this meaning. Other prepositions (e.g., under) also have itinerative meanings.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Minugh, David. 2002. “Her COLTISH energy notwithstanding”: An examination of the adposition notwithstanding. In From the COLT’s Mouth . . . and Others’: Language corpora studies in honour of Anna-Brita Stenström. Edited by Leiv Egil Brevik and Angela Hasselgren, 211–229. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Notwithstanding can immediately precede or follow its complement, unlike most English adpositions. This paper provides statistics from corpora, including from some newspapers, on its prepositional and postpositional occurrences. The data are analyzed by country (UK, US, Australia) and by the length of the complement. With a longer complement, the preposition occurs more often.

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