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1.2.1. General introduction

Adpositions can be divided into four basic types on the basis of their position with respect to their complement. Section 1.1 made the distinctions in (1), repeated here as (54).

Example 54
Formal classification of adpositions
a. Prepositions: adpositions preceding their complement
b. Postpositions: adpositions following their complement
c. Circumpositions: discontinuous adpositions enclosing their complement
d. Intransitive adpositions and particles: adpositions without a complement

Table 1, which is also repeated from Section 1.1, provides some examples of each type and also indicates the sections in which these types will be more comprehensively discussed; for reasons of exposition, the intransitive adpositions and particles will be discussed before the circumpositions.

Table 1: Formal classification of the adpositions (repeated)
adposition type example translation section
(P + NP)
voor het huis
tijdens de voorstelling
in front of the house
during the performance
(NP + P)
het huis in
het hele jaar door
into the house
throughout the year
(P + NP + P)
onder het hek door
tussen de lessen door
under the gate
in between the lessons
intransitive adpositions and particles (P) De vakantie is voorbij.
De kachel is uit.
The holiday is over.
The heater is off.

However, before we start with the discussion of the four basic types of adpositions, we briefly want to say something about phrasal adpositions and compounds.

[+]  I.  Phrasal prepositions

The prepositional phrase in de richting van'in the direction of' in (55b) performs a function similar to that of naar'to' in (55a). Therefore, we will call sequences like these phrasal prepositions. Occasionally, phrasal prepositions tend to get reduced; the (originally nominal) element richting'direction' in (55c) performs the same function as the complex phrase in (55b); cf. Loonen (2003). It is clear that this kind of reduction may result in extension of the class of prepositions, for which reason we cannot say that the prepositions constitute a fully closed class category.

Example 55
a. De bus gaat naar Amsterdam.
  the bus goes  to Amsterdam
b. De bus gaat in de richting van Amsterdam.
phrasal preposition
  the bus goes  in the direction of Amsterdam
c. De bus gaat richting Amsterdam.
reduced phrasal preposition
  the bus goes  direction Amsterdam

The reduction of phrasal prepositions is not syntactically innocuous, given that phrasal and reduced phrasal prepositions may impose different selection restrictions on their complement. The phrasal preposition in (56a), for instance, takes a noun phrase that is obligatorily introduced by an article, whereas the reduced phrasal preposition in (56b) preferably takes a bare noun phrase.

Example 56
a. De bus gaat in de richting van *(het) centrum.
  the bus goes  into  the  direction of     the center
b. De bus gaat richting (?het) centrum.
  the bus goes  in.the.direction.of    the center

The examples in (57) show that the reduction requires various other modifications of the nominal complement: whereas (56a) takes two conjoined noun phrases as its complement, the complement in (56b) is juxtaposed.

Example 57
a. Jan woont op de hoek van *(de) Kalverstraat en de Heiligeweg.
  Jan lives  on the  corner of    the Kalverstraat and the Heiligeweg
b. Jan woont hoek Kalverstraat-Heiligeweg.
  Jan lives  on.the.corner.of  Kalverstraat-Heiligeweg

      Many phrasal prepositions are historical relics. The preposition te in the examples in (58), for instance, is conflated with a case marked article resulting in the forms ter and ten, whereas overt case marking of the article is normally not possible in present-day Dutch. Another reason for assuming that these phrasal prepositions are relics is that the “nominal part” is sometimes obsolete.

Example 58
a. ter benefice van 'in favor of'
b. ter ere van 'in honor of'
c. ter gelegenheid van 'on the occasion of'
d. ter grootte van 'with the size of'
e. ter wille van 'because of'
f. ten aanzien van 'with regard to'
g. ten bate van 'on behalf of'
h. ten behoeve van 'for the benefit of'
i. ten faveure/gunste van 'in favor of'
j. ten laste van 'at the expense of'
k. ten naaste bij 'approximately'
l. ten opzichte van 'with regard to'

In (59) examples are given of phrasal prepositions that are semantically transparent from a synchronic point of view. However, these phrasal prepositions are syntactically special in that the “nominal parts” in these expressions are often not preceded by a determiner.

Example 59
a. aan de hand van 'on the basis of'
b. in antwoord op 'in answer to'
c. in de geest/trant van 'in the spirit/way of'
d. naar aanleiding van 'referring to/on account of/in connection with'
e. met betrekking tot 'with relation to'
f. met het oog op 'in view of/with a view to'
g. met uitzondering van 'except'
h. onder verwijzing naar 'with reference to'
i. onder leiding van 'under the leadership of'
j. op basis van 'on the basis of'
k. op grond van 'on account of'

Furthermore, the “nominal part” of the phrasal prepositions in (59) categorically resists modification by means of, e.g., an attributive adjective. This can be illustrated by means of the examples in (60): in (60a), the absence of a determiner indicates that we are dealing with a phrasal preposition, and in accordance with this the “nominal part” leiding cannot be preceded by an attributive adjective; in (60b), on the other hand, we are dealing with a PP, which is clear from the fact that the noun leiding is preceded by a determiner and can also be preceded by an attributive adjective. These examples therefore strongly suggest that, although semantically transparent to the present-day speaker, the phrasal prepositions in (59) are also lexicalized.

Example 60
a. onder (*bezielende) leiding van Frans Brüggen
  under     inspiring  leadership  of Frans Brüggen
  'directed by Frans Brüggen'
b. onder de (bezielende) leiding van Frans Brüggen
  under  the inspiring leadership  of Frans Brüggen

In some cases, phrasal prepositions have been reanalyzed as single words. Some examples are given in (61). The complex forms in (61a&b) function as regular prepositions. In (61c&d) the case-marked pronoun dien, which seems to act as the complement of the prepositional part aangaande/tengevolge, has been reanalyzed as part of the complex form; in accordance with this, these adpositions are intransitive.

Example 61
a. niettegenstaande 'notwithstanding'
b. overeenkomstig 'in accordance with'
c. dienaangaande 'as to that'
d. dientengevolge 'consequently'
[+]  II.  Compounds

This chapter will mainly discuss adpositions that are simple (at least from a synchronic point of view). It should be noted, however, that, in addition to these simple adpositions, Dutch has a large set of complex prepositions, which are mainly spatial in nature. As an example we give bovenop'on top of' in (62). When used as prepositions, compounds like these can be easily confused with cases like (b&c): example (62b) involves modification of the preposition voor by the adverb vlak'just' and example (62c) is a case in which the preposition voor'for' takes a PP-complement.

Example 62
a. Jan zat bovenop die auto.
  Jan sat  on.top.of  the car
b. Jan stond vlak voor die auto.
  Jan stood  just  in.front.of  that car
c. De koekjes zijn voor bij de koffie.
  the biscuits  are  for  with the coffee

The examples in (63) show that the three constructions can be easily distinguished by means of their behavior under R-pronominalization: the compound bovenop must follow the R-word daar; if we are dealing with modification, the R-word daar can either precede the preposition or the modifier; and if we are dealing with complementation, the R-word must follow the preposition that selects the PP-complement.

Example 63
a. Jan zat <daar> boven <*daar> op.
b. Jan stond <daar> vlak <daar> voor.
c. De koekjes zijn <*daar> voor <daar> bij.

This R-pronominalization test will be used in Chapter 2 on complementation and Chapter 3 on modification as a test to establish the status of prepositional phrases in unclear cases.

  • Loonen, Nard2003Stante pede gaande van dichtbij langs AF bestemming @University of UtrechtThesis
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