LINGUIST List 11.2667

Sat Dec 9 2000

Qs: Posture Verbs, Postpositions in English

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  1. John Newman, Posture Verbs
  2. Matthew L. Juge, Postpositions in English?

Message 1: Posture Verbs

Date: Fri, 8 Dec 2000 10:02:47 +1200
From: John Newman <>
Subject: Posture Verbs

I'm researching the grammatical means of encoding the action and state
differences relating to posture verbs 'sit', 'stand', and 'lie' across

Verbs for the states associated with postures (like being in a seated
position) are sometimes resultative or progressive forms of the action
verb meaning to enter into that position.

Can anyone refer me to a language where the action verb meaning is formed
as an inchoative of the state verb? I have not been able to find a good
example of this yet.

John Newman
School of Language Studies
Massey University
New Zealand

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Message 2: Postpositions in English?

Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2000 16:26:26 -0600
From: Matthew L. Juge <>
Subject: Postpositions in English?


I am wondering if anyone can suggest criteria for deciding whether the
English words "away" (1-3) and "ago" (4-5) should be considered
postpositions. Part of my interest in the question stems fro the fact
that, unlike prepositions, they are never stranded (3, 5; cf 6-7) (to my
knowledge; I have done only preliminary corpus searching).

1 They are away.
2 They are far away.
3a How far away is it?
3b *How far is it away

4 It happened two years ago.
5a How long ago did it happen?
5b *How long did it happen ago?

6 They gave it do Chris.
7 Who did they give it to?

It occurs to me that rather than NP PostP, we might assign a structure more
like DEG Adv, where DEG stands for degree of difference (like the ablative
of degree of difference in Latin). Then non-stranding would not illustrate
differential treatment of adpositions (pre- versus post-) but would instead
show something else entirely. One problem with such an approach is the
ungrammaticality of (13).

6 It had happened two years before.
7 How long before had it happened?
8 They were several feet behind us.
9 They were behind us.
10 Two hours later, we decided to leave.
11 Later, we decided to leave.
12 Two years ago I took a film class.
13 *Ago I took a film class.

Finally, if "ago" and "away" should be counted as postpositions, are there
any others in English that I'm missing?

Any thoughts y'all have on any aspect of this would be greatly appreciated.
I'll post a summary if there's sufficient interest.

Matt Juge

Department of English
TCU Box 297270
Fort Worth, TX 76129
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