Thursday, March 19, 2020

Detail #392: A Twist on Adpositions

I recently mentioned I have been fascinated recently with the notion of adpositions that take two arguments. However, an even odder twist occurred to me, and is inspired by a detail in Biblical Hebrew! (N.B: This construction apparently does exist in modern Hebrew as well, but some cursory research indicates it's not as common as some other constructions.)

The preposition that inspired me is 'between', in Hebrew בֵּֽינְ (bayin). The thing is, when you have two or more NPs, the preposition is doubled (though with a conjunction), essentially producing a structure like this:
between a rock and between a hard place
From an Anglocentric p.o.v., this would seem almost nonsensical. Indeed, 'between' seems a contender for a preposition that requires more than one argument (semantically, albeit not syntactically).

However, an adposition that either requires a non-singular object or coordination with another prepositional phrase opens some interesting doors: what if there were adpositions that require coordination either with some other adposition or an adverb?

Let us imagine a preposition that marks stretches in time. I will write it 'prep', for now. Examples that illustrate its use. Words that in English straddle the line between adverb and noun will here be strictly adverbial, and be marked by asterisks.
prep summer and prep winter: from summer to winter
today* and prep sunday: from today to sunday
prep morning and tomorrow*: from the morning to tomorrow
However, in situations where the same noun stands for both end points, the preposition has to be doubled:
prep and prep mornings
from morning to morning

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