Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

On Spanish Prepositional Prefixes and the Cartography of Prepositions

Antonio Fábregasm


Despite its potential appeal, the possibility of analyzing prefixes as prepositions (and thus as syntactic objects) faces several problems related with selection, headedness and semantic isomorphism. In this article, I try to understand and solve these problems. I focus on prefixed nouns, and more specifically on the fact that some of them have their bases interpreted as grounds (precoma, ‘something before a coma’), while others have them interpreted as figures (pre-cognition, ‘cognition before something’). I will propose that in the structures where the base can be interpreted as figure or ground the prefix is a very low prepositional modifier of the noun and the two readings depend on the interpretation of a pronominal category introduced by the preposition. This configuration is forced by the absence of a functional category from the preposition’s structure; when independent conditions force this functional category to be present, the figure reading is impossible and the prefix behaves as a preposition.

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