[Lingtyp] terminological question about local cases/adpositions

Gilles Authier gilles.authier at gmail.com
Wed Mar 24 14:40:11 UTC 2021

For "languages whose adpositions only code the spatial region, leaving the
local relation to other components of the clause"

I use
non-specific:    locative
top:    superlocative
bottom:    sublocative
interior: inlocative
proximity: adlocative
vicinity: apudlocative

which are shorter and still transparent.


On Wed, Mar 24, 2021 at 3:31 PM Christian Lehmann <
christian.lehmann at uni-erfurt.de> wrote:

> May I briefly interrupt the epistemological debate with a much simpler
> question?
> Several languages (notably, many Uralic languages) display a rich local
> case system which neatly distinguishes between spatial regions ('top',
> 'bottom', 'interior', exterior' etc.) and local relations ('rest, motion
> to/from/through') to these or to the object irrespective of its regions.
> The descriptive tradition for such languages has responded to the structure
> of such paradigms by reflecting it in a set of Latinate terms of the
> following structure:
> adessive, allative, ablative
> inessive, illative, elative
> superessive, superlative (never mind the homonymy of this term), delative
> and many others. It does not matter at the moment to what extent the case
> systems or the terminology are systematic and complete. My concern is the
> distinction between rest (essive) and motion (lative). Such a distinction
> is made in local cases or adpositions of many languages. Contrasting with
> these, there are (possibly equally many or more) languages whose
> adpositions only code the spatial region, leaving the local relation to
> other components of the clause. My question is how we can apply the
> terminological pattern mentioned to these languages in order to get
> appropriate grammatical category labels and abbreviations for the
> morphological glosses of such adpositions. Here are some such concepts and
> corresponding ponderous terms:
> non-specific:    essive/lative
> top:    superessive/-lative
> bottom:    subessive/-lative
> interior: inessive/illative
> proximity: adessive/allative
> vicinity: apudessive/-lative
> and others.
> These terms have at least two disadvantages:
>    - They are long-winded.
>    - The 'lative' member of each pair has commonly been applied
>    specifically to the direction to(wards) the reference object, not generally
>    to a motion relation.
> The first pair in the list is often simply called 'locative'. But what
> about the others? Are there shorter, but equally systematic terms in use
> anywhere?
> Some may prefer just using English words like 'on', 'under', 'beside' to
> designate and gloss such adpositions or cases. Such a solution is fraught
> with problems, too:
>    1. These are no technical terms in a grammatical description, so they
>    don't imply a grammatical category and paradigm. (We can say such things as
>    'it is marked by the ablative', but hardly 'it is marked by "from"'.)
>    2. Some of these English prepositions (being SAE prepositions) do
>    imply a local relation, like English *in* is incompatible with
>    ablative directionality (must be *out of*).
>    3. Yet other spatial regions like vicinity are not matched by an
>    English preposition (*by* is too ambiguous, other candidates are too
>    specific).
> Ignoring problems 2 and 3 would therefore evoke mistaken ideas in the
> recipient of the description.
> Grateful for any useful hints,
> Christian
> --
> Prof. em. Dr. Christian Lehmann
> Rudolfstr. 4
> 99092 Erfurt
> Deutschland
> Tel.: +49/361/2113417
> E-Post: christianw_lehmann at arcor.de
> Web: https://www.christianlehmann.eu
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