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On stacked prepositions

Roxy (she/her) — Laiqbun, Conlanging — 21/02/21 16:00 GMT-5

A thing someone asked me once when Laiqbun was very new was how prepositions stack, whether they’re put within each other or not. Is hy ten sheo sha hy seai X supposed to be read as (hy ten sheo sha) hy seai X or as hy ten (sheo sha hy seai X)? For a long time this was left to context, but then, for example, if you needed one but not the other, how could you clarify this? A month ago I realized this wasn’t the right way to handle this — but then a worse question settled in. How is this handled at all, then? I spent a while trying things without telling anyone, and eventually I found out the best way to do it, Laiqbun had this in it all this time and I never saw it. It also solves a few inconsistencies predicates already had, especially if you wanted to use serial predicates as prepositions. It’s done by using content clauses.

But first, let’s introduce the other problem — I’ve never talked about it.

Say you have a sentence like «pe deu sha na hy ten veu na». Handling prepositions the way they currently are, this would mean both “I did this because this is the way it ocurred” and “I did this because this occured in some way”. Here’s how they’d be represented in parenthesis:

[(pe-deu sha na) hy (ten-veu na)]
I did this because this is the way it ocurred
[(pe-deu sha na) hy (ten (veu na))]
I did this because this ocurred (in some way)

Do you see it? In the first one, ten veu is a serial predicate, in the second one it isn’t. This gets worse when you use larger serials. is hy seai ten sheo supposed to be hy (seai-ten) sheo? or hy (seai-ten-sheo)? Maybe hy seai (ten-sheo)? How do you differentiate?

After seeing this, if you’re deep enough in Laiqbun grammar, you might have seen an obvious solution: Just use content clauses. It’s just about changing one vowel, and suddenly all ambiguities are solved. Let’s look at the previous example:

[(pe-deu sha na) hy (ten-veu na)]
I did this because this is the way it ocurred
[(pe-deu sha na) hy (ten (viu na))]
I did this because this ocurred (in some way)

Suddenly they don’t look the same anymore. This also guides us into solving the problem this post is about. Simply by making the first predicate of a preposition match the form of the clause it’s in. Now, using the main clause form (that is, the e vowel) closes all clauses and goes back to the main one. Easy solution, isn’t it? This means that to mark the difference we talked about at the beginning you just say hy ten (shio sha) hy seai X or hy ten (shio sha hy siai) X.