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Re: inalienable possession

From:Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
Date:Wednesday, November 18, 1998, 17:35
Christophe Grandsire wrote:
> That's what we call genius! (I'm kidding!) My own personal opinion > is that the only universal you can find in language (or anywhere else) is: > everything you can think about can exist in reality. That's why I think the > discussion of naturalness against unnaturalness seems meaningless to me: > everything you can create is natural (if not, you couldn't have thought of > it).
That's not true at all. There are lots of possibilities that simply don't exist, Sally's split-nominative is a good example. AFAIK, no language has that, and yet it's quite a simple, and, in retrospect, obvious distinction. Center-embedding I can think of, but no language uses that, not regularly, at any rate. I don't think that any languages mix pre- and postpositions, except for a few formulaic forms (like English "thereof", or Latin "mecum").
> Couldn't it be in some natlangs the origin of their cases? I've read > somewhere that prepositions came often from others nouns or verbs. Imagine > the evolution: verbs->pre-postpositions->case endings (or beginnings).
Almost always verbs --> postpositions --> case-endings. It's probably quite common, I don't know of any examples, but that process would probably take a long time, so it's not surprising that there'd be no known examples. We know of verbs --> adpositions, and postpositions --> case-endings. For example: the English verbs "concern" had the participle "concerning", which is now a preposition. Mandarin Chinese uses the verb "give" as a preposition marking indirect object.
> I also > remember that in some languages, prepositions are conjugated like verbs.
The Celtic langs do that with persons, tho the verbs don't. For example, in Irish: dom = to me, duit = to you, etc. -- "It has occured to me more than once that holy boredom is good and sufficient reason for the invention of free will." - "Lord Leto II" (Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert) ICQ #: 18656696 AOL screen-name: NikTailor