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1.2.2 Properties of postpositions
[+]1. The meaning of postpositions

The basic meaning of many postpositions involves directionality, and directionality in most locative cases involves movement into a location. On a more abstract level, directionality may not just involve movement into a geographical location, but it may also involve, for example, movement into a mental location, as in: ‘He flew into a rage’. In this example, in is the locative adposition, and to is the directional adposition. In English, both are realised as prepositions, but in languages like Saterland Frisian, West Frisian and Dutch, the directional adposition is often realised as a postposition. Thus the directional adposition follows its complement, which is of the category NP or PP. Put informally, prepositions are related to staticity (which described a state) and postpositions to change. This simple scheme applies most clearly when plain location and directionality are involved. Consider the following to examples, which form a minimal pair:

Hie geen tou’t Huus ien.
he went at.the house in
He went into the house.
Hie geen tou’t Huus uut.
he went at.the house out
He went out of the house.

These examples involve the same location, but a different direction. As they involve the same location, the preposition is the same in both cases: tou ‘at, to’. Here it has a static meaning. The directionality is expressed in the postposition: ien ‘to’ versus uut ‘out’.

Both examples involve change of location, which is expressed both by the semantics of the verb and by the presence of the postposition. The combination of preposition and postposition in (1) describe that the location of the external subject is in the process of becoming part of the location described by the prepositional complement. (2) described the opposite situation: the location of the external subject is in the process of discontinuing to be part of the location described by the prepositional complement. We also refer to the external subject as the containee, and the prepositional complement as the container, since the location of the containee is contained in the location of the container.

However, adpositions are also used to describe non-locational concepts involving predication. To illustrate, consider the following example:

Hie gungt nu in Tjoonst.
he goes now in service
He now goes into military service.

The example involves change, but there is no postposition. Thus prepositions can also carry the directional semantics of change. Note also that the prepositional complement is a bare noun. In such cases, the preposition is more likely to occur on its own, that is, not accompanied by a postposition.

[+]2. The mapping of postpositional arguments onto syntactic structure

A postposition manipulates the containment relation between two locations: the container location is described by the prepositional complement, and the containee location is assumed to be known and implied by the structural subject. The postposition manipulates this relation, either establishing a locational containment relation where it doesn’t exist or discontinuing it, where it exists. Hence the postposition is typically associated with dynamic verbs.

[+]3. The combinatorial properties of postpositions

The complement of a postposition is generally a Adposition Phrase (PP). It cannot be a clause, for clauses denote propositions and it seems that directions and propositions exclude each other. Seeing that postpositions are closely associated with directionality, it doesn’t come as a surprise that they combine with directions:

Tou dät Sude ien.
at the South in
Into the South.
Dät Skuur lukt ätter’t Noude wai.
the shower moves after.the North to
The shower moves north.
Hie lapt ätter’t Aaste wai.
he walks after.the East to
He is heading east, walking.
Dan so as die Loai bit ätter dät Wääste wai ljucht.
for so as the lightning until after the West to lightens
For as the lightning shines up to the West.

Postpositions mostly combine with prepositional phrases. They may also combine with what appear to be noun phrases, as in the following examples:

Iek skleed dän Bierich andeel.
I slid the hill down
I slid down the hill.
Hie geen sien Brure toumäite.
he went his brothers to.meet
He went towards his brothers.
Hie siet uus juunuur.
he sat us against.over
He sat opposite us.
Dän hele Sumer truch.
the whole summer through
Throughout the whole summer.

Example (8) involves a combination of two postpositions, which clearly express direction and movement. Example (9) involves a complex postposition. Example (11) again is a combination of two postpositions, but here the postpositions do not involve direction but just location. This indicates that our analysis is not refined enough to also cover such examples. The last example involve time, but the conceptualisation does seem to involve movement through time.

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