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How did Sumerians know what was happening to who? Did they have gender in
their adpositions or did they just come in the order the noun phrases came?
I am really interested in how that works. Since my work in progress conlang
does some weird stuff with word order to indicate definiteness i haven't
quite figured how to make the adpositions' role clear. That sounds like a
very good inspiration for that. (Some mad noun class system may also help,
i'm thinking about the options)


2014-02-09 16:40 GMT-02:00 Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets <[log in to unmask]
>:

> On 9 February 2014 05:56, Gary Shannon <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> > I've never studied a language that uses postpositions instead of
> > prepositions. I can't quite warp my head around how that must work I take
> > the sentence fragment: "IN a cottage ON the edge OF a great forest" and
> if
> > I use postpositions I come up with "a cottage the edge a great forest OF
> ON
> > IN" That just looks like RPN, and I'm sure that's not how it's done in a
> > real natlang.
> >
> >
> Well, I wouldn't be so quick in dismissing that word order. As incredible
> as it may sound, it's basically how Old Sumerian did things! Basically, in
> Sumerian case suffixes were added at the end of the noun *phrase*, rather
> than at the end of the noun. Since in Sumerian noun adjectives and noun
> phrases *followed* the noun they completed, the result was often a big
> pile-up of case suffixes at the end of a complex noun phrase (the plural
> marker also appeared just before the case suffix, meaning that between a
> plural marker and the noun it marked the plural of, there could be quite a
> lot happening, including relative subclauses!).
> It's really weird, and it's the only language we know that works this way
> (the only languages I know of that are group marking like that tend to have
> modifier phrases *preceding* the noun they complete rather than following
> it), but it's very well attested.
>
>
> > So can somebody help me out with what word order you would find for a
> > sentence like "She lived in a cottage on the edge of a great forest."
> using
> > postpositions?
>
>
> As others have indicated, languages with postpositions will usually have a
> different word order than the one you showed, with modifier phrases
> *before* the modified noun rather than after it. Japanese is a textbook
> example of this.
>
>
> > The only postposition I can think of in English is "ago".
> > (If it were a preposition then "ago three years" would be a perfectly
> good
> > prepositional phrase, so I'm assuming it's a postposition. Or am I wrong
> > about that?)
> >
> >
> I have seen it described as a postposition. Some people think it's some
> kind of adverb. There was a discussion not so long ago about how
> adpositions often came from adverbs that become bound to the noun phrase
> they describe, and depending on the position they end up taking create
> prepositions or postpositions. I believe "ago" is a typical example of that
> :).
> --
> Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
> President of the Language Creation Society (http://conlang.org/)
>
> Personal Website: http://christophoronomicon.blogspot.com/
>