Pinkster, Harm (1942-) [1990], Latin Syntax and Semantics [info], xii, 320 p.: ill.; 24 cm. [word count] [Pinkster].
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5.3. Prepositions

In this section I deal briefly with the following points: the distribution of prepositions ( crosssection 5.3.1), the (historical) relation between prepositions and cases ( crosssection 5.3.2), the idiomatic use of prepositions ( crosssection 5.3.3.) and the internal structure of prepositional phrases ( crosssection 5.3.4).

5.3.1 Distribution of prepositions

From table 5.2 on p. 42 we may deduce the following relation in the underlying corpus between the use of prepositions (and the case form they govern) to mark noun phrases and the use of oblique cases:
- Prep.+ Prep.
Obj./Compl. two-place verbs14888
Compl. three-place verbs4748
On the noun phrase level nominal constituents are, of course, much less often marked by a preposition than by the genitive, but still slightly more frequently than by dative and ablative taken together. In prose prepositions are used more often than in poetry (table 5.3 on p. 42).

To illustrate the distribution of prepositions indicated above I give some examples of the preposition de on each of the various levels.

(a) de as a marker of satellites

(66) de vehiculo … dicebat (`He spoke from a cart', Nepos Tim. 4.2)

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(67) non bonust somnus de prandio (`It is not healthy to sleep immediately after a meal', Pl. Mos. 697)

(68) (Regulus) de captivis commutandis Romam missus esset (`R. had been sent to Rome in order to speak about the exchange of prisoners', Cic. Off. 1.39)

(69) de talento nulla causa est quin feras (`As for this talent, there is no reason why you should not take it', Pl. Rud. 1397)

(b) de as a marker of Complement constituents

(70) qui … de veneficiis accusabant (`Those who made accusations of poisoning', Cic. S. Rosc. 90)

(71) de Hortensio te certo scio dolere (`I know for sure that you are sad about H.', Cic. Att. 6.6.2)

(72) cum … senatus de annona haberetur (`When there were meetings of the senate about the corn supply', Cic. Att. 4.1.6) [46]

(73) ut de istius facto dubium esse nemini possit (`In order that nobody may have any doubt as to his deed', Cic. Ver. 4.91)

(74) his de rebus conscium esse Pisonem (`That P. was an accomplice in these deeds', Cic. Att. 2.24.3)

(c) de as a marker of constituents on the noun phrase level (governed by a noun phrase)

(75) horrifico lapsu de montibus adsunt (`With a frightening swoop from the mountains they are upon us', Verg. A. 3.225)

(76) nullus umquam de Sulla nuntius ad me (pervenit) (`No message concerning S. ever reached me', Cic. Sul. 14)

(77) ut aliquam partem de istius impudentia reticere possim (`That I can keep to myself some part of his impudence', Cic. Ver. 1.32)

(78) de collegio quis tandem adfuit? (`Who was there, then, of the board?', Cic. Dom. 117)

(79) de tribus enim quae proposui hoc extremum est (`For of the three things I have proposed this is the last one', Cic. Phil. 7.21)

5.3.2 The relation between cases and prepositions

It is commonly assumed that in Indo-European languages prepositions (and postpositions) have developed from adverbs which were added to specify the information given by the cases. [47] The development from adverbs to prepositions may be illustrated schematically as follows:

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In many languages examples may be found of the development of prepositions from adverbs. Assuming this development does not necessarily mean – as is often assumed – that at one stage there were no prepositions or postpositions and only cases. The main objection against this assumption is that among the languages known to us there are hardly any examples of languages without pre- or postpositions and with cases. Even languages with highly complex case systems – such as Hungarian and Tabassaran- have prepositions. In other words, the postulated structure is typologically unattractive. It is, on the other hand, not unlikely that in a preliminary stage of Latin cases were more important in marking the relation between constituents than were prepositions. [48]

For (Classical) Latin prepositions are often seen as a means of specifying the alleged semantic value of the cases. In support of this view linguists often refer to two phenomena, viz. (i) the existence of prepositions which govern two cases with a semantic difference, and (ii) the occurrence of verbs with which the preposition seems optional (liberare).

(i) With the prepositions in and sub we find two cases:

- venire in + acc. (urbem) indicates direction (`to come into the city')

- habitare in + abl. (urbe) indicates location (`to live in the city')

Many scholars explain this synchronic phenomenon by taking the preposition as a specification of a semantic difference whose essence is already inherent in the case forms involved. This explanation does not, however, hold for intra.

- venire intra + acc. (urbem) indicates direction (`to come within the city')

- habitare intra + acc. (urbem) indicates location (`to live within the city')

Cf. also ante murum and pro muro (`before the wall'). [49]

(ii) With a number of three-place verbs we find Complement constituents marked either by the ablative or by a preposition + ablative. [50] Cf. examples (80) and (81):

(80) te a quartana liberatum gaudeo (`I am glad that you have recovered from the fever, Cic. Att. 10.15.4)

(81) febri quartana liberatus est (`He has recovered from the fever, Plin. Nat. 7.166)

Instances of this type are quite often considered to offer proof for the general hypothesis that prepositions specify semantic relations already given in the

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case form itself. In the preceding section (pp. 53–4) I have already proposed that it is not very useful to say that the `separative' relation present in example (81) is localised in the case form, since the separative relation is inherent in the meaning of liberare. Nor is it useful to take a(b) in example (80) as a `specification' of the semantic value of the case. The two expressions, rather, seem to be synonymous, [51] the meaning of the preposition a(b) corresponding exactly to the semantic relation expressed at any rate by liberare. In this connection it is remarkable that we find hardly any other prepositions which indicate a slightly different kind of specification of the `separative' relation: the construction with ab has to a high degree become a set phrase. [52] Rather than drawing from examples (80) and (81) the general conclusion that prepositions are specifications of relations marked in themselves by the case, it is much more interesting to observe that verbs like liberare apparently allow the `separative relation' to be implicit or explicit. In both cases the noun phrase happens to be marked by the ablative. [53] Conversely, there are examples of preposition + case X competing with a different case Y. Cf.

(77) aliquam partem de istius impudentia

(82) ne residere in te ullam partem iracundiae suspicemur (`Lest we suspect the presence in your heart of some element of anger', Cic. Deiot. 8)

The genitive is, as we have seen, the pre-eminent case for the noun phrase level; the same formal marking allows a large number of semantic relations, according to the lexical meanings of Head and Attribute. The so-called `partitive' relation present in the examples cited here is made explicit by the preposition de (+ abl.). [54] Cf. also the competition on the sentence level for marking of the Addressee between the dative and ad + acc.: [55]

(83) tibi … praetor … palam dicit (`The praetor openly tells you', Cic. Quinct. 85)

(84) ad eos (deos) is deus … fatur (`To those gods this god says', Cic. Tim. 40; translated from the Greek)

Generally speaking, we may say that in a number of instances in which the semantic relation is sufficiently clear on the basis of the lexical meaning(s) there was a choice between a so-called `analytical' expression with the aid of a semantically related preposition + the case governed by this preposition and a so-called `synthetic' expression marked only by a case form. Sometimes, e.g. in the case of liberare, the case forms in the `analytical' and the `synthetical' expressions are identical. As is known, the analytical expression has been generalized in the development of the Romance languages. [56]

5.3.3 Idiomatic use of prepositions

At the end of the preceding section I have stressed that prepositions differ from cases in that they explicitly express the semantic relation. It is, however, not

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always easy to determine the exact semantic aspect of a preposition. Particularly in the case of prepositions used to mark arguments this is sometimes difficult or even impossible. Examples are bene mereri de (`to render a service to'), pertinere ad (`to pertain to'), communicare cum (`to share with'). This phenomenon is, of course, also common in other languages; cf. English John goes into the house and John goes into the problem. In the case of a so-called prepositional Object (with to go into) the meaning of into cannot be described very easily, and certainly cannot synchronically be related very easily to into in into the house. Note, also, that precisely the more frequent prepositions have a rather broad spectrum of diverging semantic aspects. To illustrate this I give the survey of the article on de in TLL:

conspectus materiae:

I de loco:

A proprie:

1 ab superiore loco p. 44.25

2 unde aliquid vel aliquis exit p. 46.37

B translate et in imag.:

1 de deductione p. 50.33

2 de origine p. 54.23

3 de parte deducta p. 56.7

4 de materia vel condicione mutata p. 59.49

5 de impensis p. 61.13

6 de poena sumpta p. 61.84

7 pro abl. instrum. p. 62.18

8 pro abl. comparationis p. 64.34

II de tempore p. 64.51

III de causa p. 65.47

IV de relatione:

A i.q. p. 67.25

B secundum p. 77.75

V adverbialia p. 78.84

VI varia et singularia p. 80.1

(from: TLL s.v. de, p. 44)

From this multitude of semantic aspects alone it can be seen that the characterization of prepositions as `specifications' of cases discussed in crosssection 5.3.2 is too simple. Some of the various semantic aspects may be characterized as `concrete' or `local', others may rather be called `abstract'. Sometimes there are direct relations between different semantic aspects (e.g. local `from' and temporal `immediately after'). Sometimes such relations are of a more artificial nature (e.g. between local de and the so-called causal de (cf. fessus de via `tired owing to the trip')). Sometimes one wonders whether it is at all useful to distinguish a meaning, e.g. because the meaning of the governed noun

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phrase is decisive (temporal de, for instance, only occurs with words indicating a `Time Position'). Consequently, the problems discussed in crosssection 5.2.6 with regard to the multitude of case uses to some extent also occur with regard to prepositions.

5.3.4 The internal structure of prepositional phrases

Prepositional phrases (PP) consist of a preposition and as a rule a noun phrase. [57] With regard to each other they fulfil the functions Relator and Prepositional Complement, respectively (see figure 5.1). [58]

Figure 5.1

In terms of their internal structure prepositional phrases differ from noun phrases, e.g. in that preposition and `preposition Complement' are mutually dependent. On the one hand, in an example like (66) de cannot be omitted without causing the sentence to become ungrammatical.

(66) de vehiculo … dicebat

This rule does not hold for verbs like liberare, where an argument slot may be filled either by a noun phrase or by a prepositional phrase (see p. 67). On the other hand, as a rule a preposition cannot independently replace an entire prepositional phrase, a phenomenon which we will see with regard to so-called substantivised adjectives (p. 88). A prepositional Complement can only be omitted in cases such as (85):

(85) et in corpore et extra esse quaedam bona (`Some bodily and external things are good', Cic. Fin. 2.68) (see K.–St. I. 579)

Extra does not only occur as a preposition, but also as an adverb. Its normal use, however, is as exemplified in (86):

(86) in urbe et extra eam (`Within the city and outside it')

When two prepositional phrases governing different cases are coordinated, both prepositions require an explicit Complement. [59]

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5.3.5 Conclusion

Cases and prepositions (+ cases) are complementary systems which each serve to mark the relations of arguments and satellites or parts of noun phrases. Prepositions generally (but not always) have a semantic aspect of their own; only in certain structures, if at all, can cases be assigned a general semantic value.

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Pinkster, Harm (1942-) [1990], Latin Syntax and Semantics [info], xii, 320 p.: ill.; 24 cm. [word count] [Pinkster].
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