Reviewed by Engin Arik, Okan University
English has prepositions, whereas Turkish has postpositions. But what are the general crosslinguistic characteristics, morphological features, syntactic functions, and semantic properties of adpositions? Claude Hagège aims to answer this question.
In Ch. 1, ‘Introduction’ (1–7), H gives a definition of adpositions as well as the scope and aims of the book. He defines adpositions as grammatical tools to mark the relationship between two parts of a sentence; an adposition governs a noun-like element. The author follows a functional and typological approach to analyze adpositions with a corpus of 434 languages from several language families, including Australian, Austronesian, Indo-European, Altaic, Caucasian, Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Dravidian, Uralic, Papuan, and Sino-Tibetan languages. In Ch. 2, ‘Towards a comprehensive characterization of adpositions’ (8–105), H first compares and contrasts adpositions with case affixes and then examines the relationship between adpositions and adverbs. The chapter also attempts to distinguish adpositions from other linguistic elements such as preverbs, direction-pointers, direct/inverse morphemes, locative stems, and applicatives. In the last section of Ch. 2, he discusses terminology for adpositions, such as relator, case-marker, flag, and functeme.
The next three chapters are devoted to detailed morphological, syntactic, and semantic analyses of adpositions. In Ch. 3, ‘A crosslinguistic survey of the morphological diversity of adpositions and adpositional phrases’ (106–90), H starts with a discussion of the typological and geographical distribution of adpositions. He then focuses on the main types of adpositions according to their place in adpositional phrases (prepositions, postpositions, and ambipositions) and their morphological complexity (simple and compound). After that, adpositions and their relations with nouns and verbs are provided.
In Ch. 4, ‘Adpositions and adpositional phrases in a syntactic perspective’ (191–256), the author analyses adpositional syntax, starting with the contribution of adpositional phrases to syntactic structure as core and peripheral complements of verbal predicates. H examines the syntactic functions of adpositional phrases as adnominal complements, predicates, and heads of certain phrases and foci of sentences. Ch. 5, ‘Adpositions from the semantic point of view’ (257–329), investigates adpositions semantically from a crosslinguistic perspective, starting with the relationship between the syntactic functions of adpositions and their semantic content, particularly place, time, and relation. H studies the relationship between adpositions and poetic language, idiomaticity, and polysemy both diachronically and synchronically.
Ch. 6, ‘Conclusion and prospects’ (330–35), concludes that adpositions are a morphological category consisting of morphemes at the midpoint of the grammaticalization process. H highlights the importance of morphosemantics in studying adpositions and of relying on typological data. Indexes of languages, names, subjects, and notions round out this rich book, whose very promising analysis of adpositions provides a great wealth of data from hundreds of languages.