This paper proposes that many adpositional items are best understood as root items framed by adpositional features within a framework like Distributed Morphology. A little p_ head is proposed to frame semantically viable roots in adpositional domains. This accounts for why there are forms that can appear in both adpositional and traditionally lexical domains in languages such as English and Mandarin Chinese. It also accounts for why these so-called adpositional items do not always carry their adpositional interpretation when used as nouns, verbs, or adjectives. Other reasons for this proposal come from the derivation of new adpositional items from other lexical categories in English, Dutch, and Chinese and explaining in English the transitive or case-assigning ability of prepositions prefixed with /be-/ in contrast to other prepositions and the inability of /a-/ and /be-/ prefixed prepositions to take the suffix /-ward/. These affixes are proposed to be different exponents of the proposed p_ head, explaining their ability to create new adpositions (historically and synchronically) and inability to co-occur with one another.
Proceedings of the 34th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Aaron Kaplan, Abby Kaplan, Miranda K. McCarvel, and Edward J. Rubin
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