Tag Archives: preposition

Grammatical taxonomy again: the case of prepositions

Let’s look at the translation of the word ‘whose’. Depending on the case, ‘whose’ can be a

  • relative pronoun: ‘la difficulté dont je t’ai parlé’ (the difficulty I told you about), ‘voilà le professeur dont j’apprécie beaucoup les cours’ (this is the teacher whose classes I really enjoy.)
  • or, more rarely, a preposition: ‘il y avait cinq couleurs, dont le rouge et le bleu’. (there were five colours, including red and blue.)

It is the latter case that we will be looking at. In this case, ‘dont’ is translated into English as ‘including’. In Corsican, the translation is: c’eranu cinque culori, frà i quali u rossu è u turchinu. But if we translate ‘il y avait cinq plantes, dont le ciste et la bruyère’ (‘there were five plants, including cistus and heather’), we get: c’eranu cinque piante, frà e quale u muchju è a scopa. Thus the translation of ‘dont’ (including) as a preposition is either frà i quali (masculine plural, culore being masculine in Corsican) or frà e quale (feminine plural), depending on which noun ‘dont’ refers to.

Thus ‘dont’ is translated into the masculine plural or the feminine plural, depending on the noun – either masculine or feminine – to which it refers. This casts doubt on the ‘prepositional’ nature of ‘dont’, and leads to further analysis to determine whether there might not be a more suitable grammatical type.

It is worth noting that ‘dont (including) can be replaced by ‘parmi lequels’ (among which, frà i quali) or ‘parmi lesquelles’ (among which, frà e quale) depending on whether the noun to which ‘whose’ refers is in the masculine plural or the feminine plural. This suggests that ‘whose’ could be conceived of as a preposition followed by a pronoun. In the spirit of this analysis, the BDL site notes: ‘Dont’ is probably the relative pronoun whose use is the most delicate. To use it correctly, one must know that dont always ‘hides’ the preposition ‘de’; ‘dont’ is equivalent to ‘de qui’, ‘de quoi’, ‘duquel’, etc. This link between ‘dont’ and ‘de’ goes back to the Latin origin of ‘dont’, which is from ‘unde’ “from where”.

More generally, this suggests that further analysis of some prepositions may be needed.

A two-sided analysis of postpositions

#preposition #postposition Consider the following adverbs: après (after, dopu) (he would eat after), avant (before, nanzi) (they had seen them before). They can also be considered as prepositions:

  • après la fête: after the feast, dopu à a festa
  • avant le mois de juin: before the month of June, nanzi u mesi di ghjunghju
    Likewise, during is also a preposition: durant la procession, during the procession, mentri a prucissioni
    But après, avant, durant can also be used differently:
  • deux jours après: two days after, dui ghjorni dopu
  • une semaine avant: one week before, una sittimana innanzi
  • deux mois durant: for two months, mentri dui mesi
    From our point of view, these are postpositions, because they are then followed by punctuation (in general), and preceded by a common name.
    If we now extend this analysis to locutions, the following locutions are also postpositions:
  • plus tard: later, dopu; deux jours plus tard: two days later, dui ghjorni dopu
  • plus loin: further, più luntanu; trois mètres plus loin: three meters further
  • plus près: closer, più vicinu; dix centimètres plus près: ten centimeters closer

Translation of preposition ‘à’ followed by noun phrase denoting a location

‘au stade de Wembley’ (at the Wembley Stadium) should translate in u stadiu di Wembley.

We face the issue of the translation of preposition ‘à’ since ‘au’ is short for ‘à le’ (to the), in particular when ‘à’ is followed by a noun phrase denoting a location. This occurs in the disambiguation of French ‘à’ which can can either translate into à (to) or into in (in).