Object of the preposition

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Wed Mar 12 1997 - 09:13:48 EST


In response to a query about EN PNEUMATI KAI ALHQEIAi yesterday you offered
a response that rather surprised me and it's occurred to me it might be
worth raising as a serious question, particularly to a real linguist.

You said that PNEUMATI was "dative because it's the object the preposition
EN." Maybe this is a matter of exactly how you put things, but although it
is true that EN is used with no other case-ending than the dative, there
are the two distinctive senses: the more common locative and the not
infrequent but far less common instrumental dative with EN. Particularly
because there is more than one usage of EN + dative (and of other
case-endings with other prepositions), but also because of my bias toward
diachronic explanations of evolving usage, I've always thought and taught
that it is grammatical function that determines case and that prepositions
are adverbial adjuncts, originally helping to make clear WHICH function of
a case-ending that has more than one function is in play in a particular
instance, and then ultimately becoming fixed as a necessary element in a
combination of preposition and noun in a given case. Perhaps this was a
quibble, but I wanted to be clear about what you meant when you said that
PNEUMATI was dative *because it's the object of the preposition EN.* You
certainly don't mean, do you, that it is the preposition EN that conveys
the functional information while the case-ending is determined by the
preposition, or do you? Am I being obtuse here?

Regards, cwc

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu OR cwc@oui.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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