The Universals
    Number   of 2029        

 Number 1
 Original In languages with prepositions the genitive almost always follows the governing noun.
 Standardized IF adpositions precede their NPs (i. e. they are prepositions), THEN head nouns almost always precede their attributive nouns (genitives).
 Formula Adp NP ⇒ N G
 Keywords order, preposition, attributive, genitive
 Domain syntax
 Type implication
 Status achronic
 Quality statistical, almost absolute
 Basis 30 languages of Greenberg 1963 sample
 Source Greenberg 1963: 78, #2
By Frans Plank 03.08.2006, 09:49 
Prep & G N:
Scandinavian languages (Germanic; except Norwegian, which has both G N and N G); Lithuanian, Latvian (Baltic) (Russian translation of Greenberg 1963).
Pali, Nuri, Welsh Romany (all Indic, IE), Danish, Swedish (both Germanic, IE), Latvian, Lithuanian (both Baltic, IE); Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese (both Sinitic, Sino-Tibetan); Bwe Karen, Sgaw Karen (both Karen, Tibeto-Burman, Sino-Tibetan); Hmong Njua (Miao-Yao); Buru, Nuaulu, Alune, Paulohi, Tetun (all Central Malayo-Polynesian, Austronesian); Kalliai-Kove, Patep, Kilivila, Puluwat (all Oceanic, Austronesian); Irarutu, Taba, Mor (all South Halmahera-West New Guinea); Abun (Bird's Head); Sahun, West Makian (both North Halmahera); Arapesh (Toricelli); Tiwi (Tiwi, Australian); Maung (Yiwaidjan, Australian); Garawa (Garawan, Australian); Madimadi (Pama-Nyungan, Australian); Alsea (Alsea); Palikur (Maipuran, Arawak); Mataco (Mataco) (all in Dryer 2000).
By Frans Plank 03.08.2006, 09:49 
1. In essence this may be a diachronic universal:
HeadNoun Genitive constructions are a source of Adposition Complement constructions, with head nouns reanalysed ("grammaticalized") as adpositions. If the ordering remains unchanged in the course of such categorial reanalyses, then the order of constituents in the target construction would mirror that in source constructions. In Greenberg 1963 itself, this way of dynamicizing word order typology is not highlighted; but it is in other work of Greenberg's.

2a. All adpositions (in all their uses)? Most? An implicit claim, at any rate, is that adpositions tend to harmonize AMONG EACH OTHER. In no language, therefore, would half of them be expected to precede and the other half to follow their NPs.

2b. If there are exceptions to the rule of adposition ordering, especially when the rule is to precede, then it is probably not entirely unpredictable which particular adpositions will be the odd men out. For example, temporal adpositions meaning 'ago' seem to have a tendency to be postpositions although I can really only quote a few examples like English ago and Italian fa. Their positional divergence is to do with their history: their sources are participles which were final in absolute constructions (two years (a)gone, due anni fatti 'made'). Cf. Philippe Bourdin [still unpublished?].

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