[Lingtyp] NP + PP construction

Paul, Prof. Dr. Ludwig ludwig.paul at uni-hamburg.de
Tue Sep 29 12:40:25 UTC 2020

What I find interesting is that in such verbless NP-PP (or NP-Adv) constructions, the NP can occur in a (sometimes colloquial) variety with an instrumental/comitative marker, at least in German and English, but obviously also in other languages, e.g.:

1.a. (Die) Füsse runter vom Tisch!

1.b. Mit den Füssen runter vom Tisch!

2.a. Hände hoch!

2.b. Hoch mit den Händen!

3.a. Kopf ab! / Rübe ab!

3.b. Ab mit der Rübe!

4.a. Head(s) off!

4.b. Off with the head(s)!

Sometimes, there seems to be no "simple" version without the instrumental marker, e.g.:

5.a. 'Raus mit euch!

("*Ihr 'raus (von hier)" would be possible but sounds odd)

('raus is the colloquial abbreviation of "heraus" = "out of")


Ludwig Paul


Von: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> im Auftrag von paolo Ramat <paolo.ramat at unipv.it>
Gesendet: Sonntag, 27. September 2020 10:49:11
An: Alex Francois
Cc: Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Betreff: Re: [Lingtyp] NP + PP construction

1) Ital. Superman alla riscossa ! (could be a head title in a newspaper. Very often journals announce their news in these form).
2) Ital. Giù le gambe dal tavolo ! (imperat.)

Actually, non verbal predication is known in many languages: see above all Kees Hengeveld, Non verbal predication. De Gruyter. And look in Google at "non-verbal predication" for further literature.


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Il giorno dom 27 set 2020 alle ore 07:24 Alex Francois <alex.francois.cnrs at gmail.com<mailto:alex.francois.cnrs at gmail.com>> ha scritto:
dear Ian,

> I wonder if there has been any literature on the construction where there is no verb, but only an NP and a PP
Interesting question.
In English, those constructions are particular:  they are arguably elliptical in some way, exclamative – or hortative – rather than declarative…

Yet in many languages, including from the Oceanic (Austronesian) family, a construction {NP + PP} is simply the normal syntax for a declarative statement, where the PP is the predicate itself.

Thus Mwotlap (Oceanic; Banks, Vanuatu) would have this:
 (square brackets = limits of the predicate phrase)
(1)  Imam    mino   [mi   tēytēybē].
     father  my     with doctor
        “My father is/was with the doctor.”

(2)  na-tan̄   nōnōm  [lelo   siok].
     Art-bag  your   inside  canoe
        “Your bag is in the canoe.”

Likewise, Araki (Oceanic; Santo, Vanuatu) says:

(3)  Sari   nene   [m̈ar̄a  m̈aji].
     spear  this    for   fish
        “This spear is for fish.”  (i.e. it's designed for fishing)

Teanu  (Oceanic ; Temotu, Solomons) would have:

(4)  Datilu   [pe   Iura].
     3dual    from  Vanuatu
        “They were from Vanuatu.”

These are all prepositional predicates, translated in English as BE + prep.  (is with, is in, is for, were from…)
Their syntax is typical of languages of the "omnipredicative" type (cf. Launey 1994 about Nāhuatl),  languages where the predicate slot can be headed by various lexical classes  —  unlike European languages, where the predicative function in declarative statements is basically restricted to verbs.

Those languages which, like European languages, restrict predicativity to the class of verbs, need a copula (like a verb BE) to turn non-predicative phrases into a predicate:  with > "I was with them";   happy > "she is happy";  rice > "this is rice";   home > "we were home".

This operation (turning a non-pred phrase into a predicate) is arguably the main function of copulas (cf. Lemaréchal 1989, 1997);  this is the raison d'être of être.
In omnipredicative languages, words like with, happy, rice and home would simply head the predicate, making the whole copula operation superfluous.  This is why a typical property of omnipredicative languages is to lack a verb Be in the first place.

NB:  in languages where the predicate is clause-initial, you will have the reverse order {PP NP}.  Example in Tahitian:

(5)  [Nō   tō'u  fenua]   teie  mā'a.
     from  my    country  this  food
        “This food is from my country.”

Here again, the preposition (nō) is the head of the predicate.

Some references:

  *   Launey, Michel. 1994. Une grammaire omniprédicative: Essai sur la morphosyntaxe du nahuatl classique. Sciences du Langage, Paris: CNRS.
  *   Lemaréchal, Alain. 1989. Les parties du discours, Syntaxe et sémantique. Linguistique Nouvelle. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
  *   —— 1997. Zéro(s). Linguistique Nouvelle. Paris: Presses universitaires de France.
  *   François, Alexandre. 2005. Diversité des prédicats non verbaux dans quelques langues océaniennes. In Jacques François & Irmtraud Behr, Les constituants prédicatifs et la diversité des langues. Mémoires de la Société de Linguistique de Paris. Louvain: Peeters. 179-197.
  *   —— 2017. The economy of word classes in Hiw, Vanuatu: Grammatically flexible, lexically rigid. In Eva van Lier (ed.), Lexical Flexibility in Oceanic Languages. Special issue of Studies in Language. 41 (2): 294–357.


I realise that these Oceanic constructions look perfectly parallel to your English examples [Your legs off the table!], and yet the syntactic similarity is only superficial.
The contrast – whether syntactic, semantic or pragmatic – is worth exploring.


Alex François

LaTTiCe<http://www.lattice.cnrs.fr/en/alexandre-francois/> — CNRS–<http://www.cnrs.fr/index.html>ENS<https://www.ens.fr/laboratoire/lattice-langues-textes-traitements-informatiques-et-cognition-umr-8094>–Sorbonne nouvelle<http://www.univ-paris3.fr/lattice-langues-textes-traitements-informatiques-cognition-umr-8094-3458.kjsp>
Australian National University<https://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/francois-a>
Academia page<https://cnrs.academia.edu/AlexFran%C3%A7ois> – Personal homepage<http://alex.francois.online.fr/>


On Fri, 25 Sep 2020 at 23:07, JOO, Ian [Student] <ian.joo at connect.polyu.hk<mailto:ian.joo at connect.polyu.hk>> wrote:
Dear all,

I wonder if there has been any literature on the construction where there is no verb, but only an NP and a PP, such as:

(1) Superman to the rescue!
(2) Your legs off the table!

Of course, not only in English, but in any language. I would appreciate your help.

From Hong Kong,


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