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Re: Linguistic Universals?

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Friday, November 12, 1999, 18:32
At 9:42 pm +0100 11/11/99, Lars Henrik Mathiesen wrote:
>> Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999 12:00:05 -0800 >> From: Charles <catty@...> > >> Latin is the one that puzzles me most ... >> Why have both morphological cases (inflections) >> and also have prepositions? > >Well, so does Greek, Germanic, Celtic,... Redundancy is one possible >answer. But note that some prepositions can govern two cases, with >different meaning, so it's not quite useless.
Yes, indeed. With only four cases + vocative in ancient Greek, the cases couldn't have carried all the meanings conveyed by prepositions. And, as Lars says, some prepositions govern more than one case; in Greek many governed all three oblique cases: the acc. denoting 'motion towards', gen. 'motion from' & the dat. 'no motion' (I once posted a llist of these on the list). Quite a neat scheme, I think.
>> Were the prepositions >> "originally" (there was no true origin I suppose) >> adverbs? > >That's the assumption. The IE noun cases had quite vague senses when >used alone (not as a core argument of the verb), and adverbs were >often used to specify more precisely the relation of these non-core >nouns to the verb action. So they were reinterpreted as prepositions.
Yep - and in th Homeric works this is still what we find. The adverbs don't even always come next to the nouns, and when they do they may follow rather than precede the noun. Even in the Classical period the "prepositions" can be post-posited, espcially, but not always, in verse (there is a change of accent depending upon whether they come before or after their noun). It's not till the Hellenic period that they finally settle down as well-behaved prepositions. And now, in the modern language, the dative has gone, the gentive no longer likes to be governed by any preposition, and they all take the accusative.
>> Apparently they also glued them onto verbs >> to make productive series like in-* and pro-* etc. >> Odd, because this pattern does not extend back >> into PIE. > >Says who? Verb prefixes occur in Samskrta (the name itself is an >example), Slavic, Greek, Germanic, Celtic, and probably in the >branches I don't know about too. It's true that no prefixed verb forms >are normally reconstructed specifically for PIE, but that does not >mean they were not used then.
Indeed, I was under the impression that this was considered to be an inherited IE trait. Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================