I really get a kick out of blurring the line between nouns and prepositions, especially using locative/dative/etc. forms of body parts. If you create a language with both noun case and possessive affixes, then you can do things like what Yandus -- Yet Another Nonce[ense] Language with Unusual Sandhi -- does:
|at my house|
|at your house|
|next to me (lit., 'at my knee')|
|next to you (lit., 'at your knee')|
(Note that Yandus makes an alienable vs. inalienable distinction in possessives: knees are inalienable -- they're an integral part of one -- but houses are alienable. I seem to remember that in some languages with this distinction, houses are inalienable. Whatever -- it's a feature of the lexicon and therefore doesn't concern us here...
Given this happy convergence of suffixes, you can do this:
|at the teacher's house|
|next to the teacher (lit., 'at the teacher's knee')|
|next to the teachers (lit., 'at the teachers' knee')|
(Yandus doesn't make a number distinction in borrowed nouns.)
This gives you what appear to be inflected postpositions, but which really aren't. Well, maybe. Things would look a little different if fub@N had been semantically depleted altogether and another word (say, akr~u) used for 'knee'. In fact, (*magic wand*) that's exactly what happened in Yandus' close relative, Yaplom. Then there's another language, Omol, where the alienable/inalienable distinction was lost and inalienable possessives only occur in constructions such as these -- thus it has a set of inflections that occur only on these "postpositions".
Another fun one is using nouns to form reflexive pronouns. In Japanese (someone correct me if I'm wrong) zibun '(my,your,...)self' has (or once had) the meaning 'body'. 'I hit [my] body' = 'I hit myself'. In some languages, the word for 'arse' ('ass' to Americans) is used this way. In others, 'head' is. I imagine still more body parts are used this way in other languages.
This segues very neatly into noun classifiers: a head of cattle, a piece of wood, a sheet of paper. If I'm not mistaken, in the great majority of languages which do this sort of thing the classifiers seem to have developed from nouns. This is something I've never used in a conlang (seeking to avoid the kitchen sink phenomenon), though.
Last modified Saturday, April 24, 2004 at 16:42:29 GMT -0500