The Language Vorlin (2006)

Chapter 8: Prepositions

prepositions formed with -u

Many relationships that are expressed with prepositions in English are expressed by transitive verbs in Vorlin. This may seem surprising to someone only familiar with English and its relatives, but many languages around the world handle these concepts in a similar manner.

Even in English, prepositions resemble transitive verbs in several ways: 1.) Either a preposition or a transitive verb must be accompanied by two arguments, a “subject” and an “object.” 2.) One preposition can take another as its object in a manner similar to serial verbs, e.g. “she ran from behind the bushes.” 3.) Prepositions can be modified by adverbs, e.g. “from his position slightly above the others...” 4.) In many cases an English preposition can be replaced by a relative clause containing a transitive verb, or by a transitive verb’s active participle: “a person without money” = “a person who lacks money” = “a person lacking money.”

Since prepositions are merely verbs in disguise, it seems logical for Vorlin to derive prepositions from nouns in the same way that it derives verbs from nouns. Vorlin converts nouns that refer to abstract relationships into transitive verbs by adding the suffix -o: ya deso Erik es hus = I left Erik’s house, I departed from Erik’s house; roda ful loko mikanbom = the red bird is located at the tangerine-tree. These verbs can be converted to prepositions by changing the o to u: son desu Erik es hus mali = the sound (coming) from Erik’s house is unpleasant; ful loku mikanbom vido tis kat = the bird at the tangerine-tree sees your cat.

Prepositions have a relatively high degree of polysemy and idiomatic usage in most natural languages. For example, the English preposition “with” means possessing in “person with money,” accompanying in “went to the cinema with her,” using in “stabbed him with a fountain pen,” in proportion to in “the pressure varies with depth,” supporting or agreeing in “are you with us or against us,” opposing in “had a fight with his wife” or “at war with Mars”... and those are only a few of the meanings listed in a good dictionary! Deriving prepositions from well-defined nouns is expected to protect Vorlin’s prepositions from acquiring multiple disparate meanings.

other prepositions

There are a few prepositions that are not formed by adding -u to a noun. Some of these perform special syntactic functions, such as ze. Others such as par have remained in the vocabulary from Old Vorlin, and have been allowed to retain their CVC shape for two reasons: (1) They perform special functions such as tagging verb arguments, therefore it seems reasonable to allow them to retain a phonological shape different from ordinary relational prepositions; (2) They are used in compound words more often than other prepositions, and their CVC shape makes it less likely that they will create morphological ambiguity.

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