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The development of Classical Armenian prepositions and its implications for universals of language change

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Abstract

It is common to find examples of case morphology derived from grammaticalized postpositions. However, the grammaticalization of independent prepositions into prefixed case markers is documented far less frequently. Classical Armenian is one language where such phenomena do appear; as such, it offers some intriguing implications regarding patterns of language change and typology. In particular, the proclitic preposition <i>z- </i>‘concerning, around’ takes on some characteristics of a case-marking morpheme, and prefixed <i>z- </i>continues to exhibit some case-marking functions in Modern Western Armenian. Comparisons with some northern Australian languages with prefixes carrying out case-marking functions are also drawn. This effort will thus demonstrate that case-marking systems with preposed morphemes, while not common, are a viable outcome of the mechanisms of language change.

References

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