postpositional phrases

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postpositional phrases

Post by Beta Star »

I'm having trouble finding examples of a certain kind of postpositional phrase in natlangs. I can find plenty of examples containing noun + postposition, which modifies a verb, such as Hungarian

a fiú a fa alatt ül the boy sits under the tree

but I cannot readily find an example (via googling) of noun + postposition modifying another noun, equivalent to the prepositional phrases in the English examples:

(1) the object in my hand is a screw
(2) the man under the bridge looks hungry

Are postpositional phrases used this way in natlangs? If so, does the postpositional phrase appear after or before the noun it modifies?

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Post by Beta Star »

follow-up: I did find this tidbit about Basque: "A postpositional phrase cannot directly modify a NP (de Rijk 1988), but requires the adjectival suffix -ko: gazte-lurako bidea ‘the road to the castle’"

from a grammar of Cavineña: "Postpositional phrases cannot function at the NP level, i.e., cannot directly modify the head noun of an NP, unless through the use of relativization."

In Hindi "Postpositional phrases cannot modify a noun either, but they also cannot function as complements to the linker to serve as attributes." (If I'm understanding an online paper correctly)

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Post by Tengado »

Not exactly the same, but similar. Chinese has relational nouns which come after the noun - in front of him is 在他的前面: 在-他的-前.面 locative preposition - his - front side. These relational nouns also need an adjectival/genitive particle to modify another noun - "the building in front" 前面的楼 前面-的-楼 front side -adj -building. POssibly postposiitons developed from such nouns, thus requiring the adjectival structure? Or prepositons and postpositions both developed from nouns, but differ in their reanalysis as being very different to nouns?
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Post by LinguistCat »

In Japanese, many things that would be prepositional in English ("The cat under the table) is a relational noun phrase ("Teeburu no shita ni neko" or more literally "The table's bottom in/at cat".)
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Post by Kereb »

vampyre_smiles wrote:In Japanese, many things that would be prepositional in English ("The cat under the table) is a relational noun phrase ("Teeburu no shita ni neko" or more literally "The table's bottom in/at cat".)


The phrase ending in ni can't modify the noun directly. You'd say teeburu no shita no neko or teeburu no shita ni iru neko.
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Post by LinguistCat »

Berek wrote:
vampyre_smiles wrote:In Japanese, many things that would be prepositional in English ("The cat under the table) is a relational noun phrase ("Teeburu no shita ni neko" or more literally "The table's bottom in/at cat".)


The phrase ending in ni can't modify the noun directly. You'd say teeburu no shita no neko or teeburu no shita ni iru neko.


Thanks for the correction. I must be getting rusty.
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Post by Beta Star »

Well, I wonder if I've stumbled upon a language universal. Maybe postpositional phrases can't modify nouns directly in natlangs, unlike prepositional phrases. It seems like allowing such a thing would be harmless but maybe it causes unpleasant entanglements or "just doesn't feel right" in complex sentences. I will experiment with it when I get my SOV conlang up and running.

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Post by Jetboy »

Well, depending on whether or not you consider 'ago', 'hence', etc., as postpositions, English uses postpositions adverbially.
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Post by Miekko »

Finnish sort of permits it, but it's difficult to tell whether they're adverbials or attributes in the examples I've been thinking of.
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