Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Adpositional irregularities

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Tuesday, January 24, 2006, 19:36
In case Amanda, or any one else for that matter, are still interested in
possible irregularities, I thought I might give non-English (the 'ago'
business was possibly not too helpful  ;)

But during the exchanges about the AHD & Columbia Guide 'ago'
classification, it was mentioned at one point that Latin did not have
postpositions. That is not strictly true, it did. But they were so few
and far between that the name 'praepositio' was used generally for
adpositions, whether they were truly preposited or not. The majority of
adpositions were, of course, well-behaved prepositions as they generally
are in western European languages.

The word _tenus_ "as far as" always follows its noun. At school we were
told that it was 'a preposition that followed its noun'! It is normally
used with the ablative case, e.g.
pectoribus tenus - up to [their] chests
Antio tenus - as far as Antium
summi tenus - as far as the top

Sometimes (but never with Cicero) it followed the genitive. That itself
was an irregularity since all other adpositions govern the accusative or
ablative case; examples:
labrorum tenus - as far as the lips
Cumarum tenus - as far as Cumae

The adposition _uersus_ was also always placed after its noun. But it
had this additional restriction: it was used only with the word _domum_
(home [acc.]) or names of towns and cities. It governed the accusative
case. Examples:
domum uersus - towards home
Romam uersus - in the direction of Rome

The adposition _propter_ (which also governed the accusative) could be
place either before or after its noun if it meant "close to, near to",
propter murum _or_ murum propter = close by the wall

But when it had its more common (tho originally secondary) meaning "on
account of', "because of" it had to behave like a properly brought up
preposition. Example: propter nos homines - because of us humans.

Some will no doubt remember from their school days that the adposition
_cum_ "(together) with", while normally a well-behaved preposition, got
suffixed to the personal pronouns: mecum (with me), tecum (with the,
with you), nobiscum (with us), uobiscum (with you [pl]), secum (with
himself, with herself, with themselves). They are written this rather
than as separate words, since the suffixing of -cum changed the stress
of _nobis_ and _uobis_, thus: nobis /'no:bi:s/, _but_ nobiscum

(the final -m was silent, but some think the vowel was nasalized in
compensation. Others think it was just silent. I'm inclined to agree
with the latter FWIW)

With the interrogative pronoun (quis, quis, quid) & the relative pronoun
(qui, quae, quod) it could be either preposited or suffixed, e.g.
cum quo _or_ quocum; cum qua _or_ quacum; cum quibus _or_ quibuscum.

If you wanted to add extra jollity, besides exceptional positioning of
adposition, you could always do as they do in Welsh: have some
adpositions _conjugated_ and others not; thus e.g.
              ON         AFTER
me         arna i       wedi fi
you [s.]   arnat ti     wedi ti
him        arno fe      wedi fo
her        arni hi      wedi hi

us         arnon ni     wedi ni
you [pl]   arnoch chi   wedi chi
them       arnyn nhw   wedi nhw

- there is no 'it' in Welsh. All is masc or fem as in French, Spanish,
Hebrew, Arabic, Hindi etc.
- in literary Welsh the pronouns are not used after the conjugated
forms, and some of the forms themselves are slightly different, namely:
arnaf, arnat, arno, arni, armom, arnoch, arnynt.

Of course, once you have conjugated forms, there's always scope for an
irregularly conjugated adposition or two. Thus besides the three regular
conjugations in Welsh, there are delightful irregularities   :)
cf. gan = with
Literary  Colloquial    Colloquial
            (north)      (south)*
gennyf     gen i        gen i
gennyt     gen ti       gen ti
ganddo     gynno fo     ganddo fe
ganddi     gynni hi     ganddi hi
gennym     gynnon ni    gennyn ni
gennych    gynnoch chi  gennych chi
ganddynt   gynnyn nhw   ganddyn nhw

*in practice, the southerners have rather given up on this word and
normally use the invariable _gyda_ to express "with". Softies!

There you are - quite a few ideas to make adpositions more interesting
in your conlangs   ;)



Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>