copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by dante » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:15 pm

Yes Edwin, I've noticed a few of them on the internet in the meantime :) Brett Reynolds from English, Jack website gives a nice and simple survey of the main properties that distinguish the class of prepositions from other word classes http://www.teslontario.ca/conference08/Prepositions.pdf

One of the commenters on a Language log article here http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1260 said this:
A fairly reliable test for prepositions is that you can modify them with right, just as you did in "the ship went right under". Compare this with "he went right home", or "I walked right away". Note: this test doesn't work with non-spatial prepositions, like of or because.
Apart from this I guess that there aren't many reliable syntactic tests that can prove the preposition category status of words such as "home" or "bush" from this article, or else they would have been mentioned in the discussion. Still "home" seems to naturally belong with other spatial prepositions complementing verbs of direction or location: head up, down, home..Normally with words other than prepositions you would require "to" in this kind of expressions. In discussing this in CGEL the authors don't give any more elaboration than it is stated in this article on Language log I linked to. They are more focused on developing arguments against the analysis of "home" as an adverb.
Last edited by dante on Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:00 pm

I'm sorry, Dante, I can't access your first linkee.

The 'right-modification test' we've discussed before - it is not too hot. It would allow ahead, for instance: Go right ahead! And reverend.
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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by dante » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:33 pm

The link address fixed Edwin, you should be able to open it now. I agree that "home" and similar directional or locative prepositions that do not take complements are a bit peripheral to the category, but still there is no convincing reasons to exclude them from this category. They obviously share other characteristics typical of more central prepositions, most importantly in respect of the kind of verbs they are complementing. Semantically it makes perfect sense to me to put them in this category,
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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:55 pm

The 'go' test:

He went in.
He went across.
He went home.
He went bananas.

The 'stay' test:

He stayed in.
*/? He stayed across.
He stayed home. (US)
He stayed put.

The 'put' test:
Put it in.
*Put it across. (non-idiomatic)
*Put it home.
Put it concisely.

The 'place' test:
??Place it in.
*Place it across.
*Place it home.
Place it carefully.

The 'position' test:
*He positioned it in.
*He positioned it across.
*He positioned it home.
(He positioned it just here.)
He positioned it carefully.

The 'send' test:
She sent him in.
She sent him across.
She sent him home.
She sent him immediately.

What does this prove about the prepositionality of in, across and home?

And, from your second link, a comment with which I wholeheartedly agree:

My counter-argument to Geoff's argument that there are objectless prepositions, e.g., the under in 'the ship went right under' is that in this case the object is understood from context. It may be 'the waves' or 'the sea' or even 'the water'. It's not there but it's understood; it's elided. In the case of the chicks that headed bush, what is understood is the preposition. In this case I agree that bush is not an adverb, it's the object of an understood and elided preposition, to. The definite article is also elided just because 'the chicks headed the bush' just doesn't sound right. The whole phrase, 'under the waves' or 'to the bush' as acting as an adverb, which is why the trads will try to make bush be an adverb, but I say that it is the object of an understood preposition, the whole prepositional phrase acting as an adverb.

When there is an elision in an accepted construction (and as we know, this is often the case), it becomes nonsensical to analyse the elided construction syntactically as it now stands, using similar-looking constructions that it now mimics, but without reference to what the full, also grammatical, version was. We end up with analyses such as 'lead is ditransitive in he led them a merry dance', and 'take is ditransitive in he took the dog a walk'.

Your first link claims wrongly that 'prepositions can typically function as complements of be':

• The dinner is afterwards (after the dance).
• Good things are ahead (in front of us).
• The shortest way is east (to the east).
• They’re here now (at the conference).
• Tell me when you’re home (at school).


It's the prepositional phrases that 'can typically function as complements
of be' (eg to the east not to; at the conference / school not at).

As in the first quote here, the whole prepositional phrase (whether given fully or elided, leaving the elided elements to be mentally reclaimed) is acting as an adverb. It is a matter of opinion whether the then preposition is still a preposition (or then noun - eg bush in went bush - is still a noun); however, where there is obviously no elision, as in they are here, inventing rules to support inclusion in the preposition class is unsatisfactory. From a distributional argument, here behaves quite like an adjective or possessive pronoun (or adverb) - it depends on which tests you choose to avoid. Prepositions have traditionally been defined semantically (describing spatial and temporal relationships) and then, by syntactic extension, in the construction of other similar structures (prepositional phrases) not directly reflecting semantic relationships. And yes, this traditional model is itself not without difficulties.

For instance, There's a debate about whether we should take the train or not. doesn't have a typical noun phrase / clause following the preposition about.
But it does have a substantive, a noun-substitute, as shown by:

Whether we should take the train or not isn't your problem.

Also, I didn’t hear until later.
Later will do.
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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by dante » Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:53 pm

Your first link claims wrongly that 'prepositions can typically function as complements of be':....It's the prepositional phrases that 'can typically function as complements of be' (eg to the east not to; at the conference / school not at).
I don't think the author is wrong there at all, prepositions often function as complements of the verb to be (He was out/up/down...), strange that you said that Edwin . Besides, the preposition alone is best seen as a phrase containing only the head - preposition, without complements. A complement in a prepositional phrase can have various forms according to the analysis of PP in CGEL. This view of PP necessitated the reanalysis of the traditional class of conjunctions such as before, after, during etc, as prepositions. The view taken in CGEL is that prepositions can take a clause as a complement, as much as they can take a noun, noun phrase, other prepositional phrase etc. When you take this position, the example you gave is not syntactically peculiar in any way:

There's a debate about whether we should take the train or not.

Preposition "about" takes a content clause (closed interrogative "whether" clause) as a complement, a rough analysis of this PP is simple as that. The PP "about whether we should take the train or not" functions as a complement within the noun phrase headed by the noun "debate". The NP "debate about whether.." is a complement in the existential "there"construction.
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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:44 pm

Using the most relevant sense of typical: being or serving as a representative example of a particular type (Collins):

We find that the following prepositions cannot function as complements of be:

amid, among, as, astride, at, atop, according to, ahead of, à la, along with, apart from, as for, aside from, as per, as for, as well as, away from.

And that's just those (single- and multi-word examples) beginning with a.

Bar, barring, besides, by ...

I'm surprised you were surprised.

You say:

Besides, the preposition alone is best seen as a phrase containing only the head - preposition, without complements.

It certainly is if you're interested in re-defining it the way CGEL wish to!

My bank balance is best seen if one adds a few inconsequential zeroes at the end of the number of pounds.
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