Christophe Grandsire wrote:
>         That's what we call genius! (I'm kidding!) My own personal opinion
> is that the only universal you can find in language (or anywhere else) is:
> everything you can think about can exist in reality. That's why I think the
> discussion of naturalness against unnaturalness seems meaningless to me:
> everything you can create is natural (if not, you couldn't have thought of
> it).

That's not true at all.  There are lots of possibilities that simply
don't exist, Sally's split-nominative is a good example.  AFAIK, no
language has that, and yet it's quite a simple, and, in retrospect,
obvious distinction.  Center-embedding I can think of, but no language
uses that, not regularly, at any rate.  I don't think that any languages
mix pre- and postpositions, except for a few formulaic forms (like
English "thereof", or Latin "mecum").

>         Couldn't it be in some natlangs the origin of their cases? I've read
> somewhere that prepositions came often from others nouns or verbs. Imagine
> the evolution: verbs->pre-postpositions->case endings (or beginnings).

Almost always verbs --> postpositions --> case-endings.  It's probably
quite common, I don't know of any examples, but that process would
probably take a long time, so it's not surprising that there'd be no
known examples.  We know of verbs --> adpositions, and postpositions -->
case-endings.  For example: the English verbs "concern" had the
participle "concerning", which is now a preposition.  Mandarin Chinese
uses the verb "give" as a preposition marking indirect object.

> I also
> remember that in some languages, prepositions are conjugated like verbs.

The Celtic langs do that with persons, tho the verbs don't.  For
example, in Irish: dom = to me, duit = to you, etc.

"It has occured to me more than once that holy boredom is good and
sufficient reason for the invention of free will." - "Lord Leto II"
(Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert)
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