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1.1.4 The combinatorial properties of prepositions

The prepositional complement is commonly realised as one of the following syntactic categories:

  • Noun Phrase (NP)
  • Prepositional Phrase
  • Postpositional phrase
  • Clause

The prepositional complement may be realised as a NP, as in the examples below:

Ätter alven.
nach eleven
After eleven o’clock.
Bäte ju Dore.
behind the door
Behind the door.

The prepositional complement may be realised as a prepositional phrase:

Bit ap uus Bääsjebabe waas nemens in dän Oorlog wezen.
until on our granddad was nobody in the war been
Down to our granddad, nobody was in the war.
Die Ruum waas bit ap dän lääste Stoul ful.
the room was until on the last chair full
The room was filled up to the last chair.

It may be realised as a postpositional phrase, bracketed in the examples below:

Die Kat ron bit [an’t Huus tou]
the cat walked until at.the house to
The cat walked up to the house.
Bit [an dusse Tied antou].
until to this time to.to
Until this time.

The internal structure of such phrases is still a matter of theoretical investigation. A prepositional complement may be realised as a clause. However, in such cases, the clause must be doubled by the R.pronoun deer ‘there, it’:

Dan jo hieden underwaiens mädeenuur deeruur boald, [wäl fon him die Grootste waas.]
for they had on.the.way with.each.other R.about talked who of them the greatest was
For while on the way, they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

The clause has been bracketed in the example above. R-pronouns are a set of locative pronouns which can either be interpreted either as locations or as ordinary arguments (persons, things, propositions), depending on the syntactic structure in which they appear. R-pronouns are interpreted as arguments in case they function as adpositional complements. It may further be appreciated that prepositions have wider combinatorial properties than postpositions.

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