The locative differs from the remaining six cases in the declension system of modern Polish in that it is always employed with a preposition. In the Polish declension system the genitive, dative, accusative, and instrumental can be used either with a preposition or without it, the nominative and the vocative occur in the prepositionless form only, and the locative is always prepositional. Abstracting from the vocative, whose specific appellative function sets it apart from the other cases of the Polish inflectional paradigms, the locative and the nominative are the only cases which are realized in discourse under a single form. The fact that the nominative is only prepositionless, and the locative, only prepositional explains why the Polish grammatical tradition, maintained in the recent grammars of Polish (see e.g. Grzegorczykowa et al. 1984), presents the locative as the sixth case in the Polish declension system, a case occupying the position likely to be considered as opposite to that of the nominative.1
While the nominative has always been a one-form, prepositionless case, the locative did have two forms in its history : it was prepositionless in Old Church Slavonic (with the endings -e/-i, -u or -e in the singular, and the endings –e__, -i__, ___, -a__, -u, -i in the plural and the dual depending on the declension and the stem type see examples in Bartula 1994 : 137-151), and both prepositional and prepositionless in medieval Polish, where the bare form was already disappearing, judging from the scarcity of the attested prepositionless examples (Kempf 1978 : 109-111).
There are no examples of bare locative usage in modern Polish (nor in modern Slavic in general see Janda 1993 : 205), but the case has preserved its distinct inflectional ending : -e or -u in the singular, depending on the final consonant of the noun’s stem (w szkole = at school, w domu = at home), and the characteristic -ach ending for all plural forms (o szkolach = about schools, o domach = about homes). The persistent presence of the locative affix in the variety of the prepositional phrases suggests that the locative case, in spite of the absence of the bare, morphological form in the modern language, has maintained a distinct case meaning of its own. This meaning has to be compatible with some element of meaning present in the prepositions the locative combines with.
In case languages, such as Polish, prepositions are always linked with cases ; preposition in a prepositional phrase cannot be considered in isolation from case, for the substantive noun in a prepositional phrase is always marked for case. What’s more, preposition and case in a prepositional phrase are mutually dependant : a particular case cannot combine with all or any prepositions, and a specific preposition can never co-occur with any or all cases. The examples in (1a) show that the same preposition can combine with, or « govern » (in the traditional grammar terminology) up to three different cases in Polish ; example (1b) illustrates the situation where one case combines with several different prepositions :
1a. Polish PP’s with one preposition and different cases :
za dzien-Acc. = in a day-Acc.
za dnia-Gen. = during the day, in day-time-Gen.
za dniem-Instr. = after day-Instr., as in dzien za dniem=day
in, day out ; day after day
na stole-Loc. = on the table-Loc.
na stól-Acc. = onto the table-Acc.
1b. Polish PP’s with one case and different prepositions :
The locative and its five prepositions
w operze –Loc. = in the opera (house)-Loc.
na operze-Loc. = at the opera (performance)-Loc.
po operze-Loc. = after the opera (performance)-Loc.
o operze-Loc. = about the opera (performance)-Loc.
przy operze-Loc. = by/ near the opera (house)-Loc.
The instrumental and its six prepositions
z nami-Instr. = with us-Instr.
miedzy nami-Instr. = between us-Instr.
nad nami-Instr. = over/ above us-Instr.
pod nami-Instr. = under/ beneath us-Instr.
przed nami-Instr. = before us-Instr.
za nami-Instr. = behind/ after us-Instr.
The Polish locative combines with five prepositions : w (= in), na (= on, at), po (= about, after), o (= about) and przy (= by, near, next to), as illustrated by example (1b). This number, when compared to the twelve prepositions of the genitive or the six prepositions of the instrumental, does not appear excessively big. Though moderate, however, it does point to a fairly vast field of application of the locative case. Of the five locative prepositions, four can combine with at least one other case, as illustrated by examples (2) to (5) :
2a. Jestem w domu–Loc.
I am at home.
2b. « Gosc w dom–Acc., Bóg w dom-Acc. »
« Guest into home–Acc., God into home-Acc. »
= When a guest enters your home, God enters your home. (a proverb)
3a. Jestem na wakacjach–Loc.
I am on vacation.
3b. Jade na wakacje–Acc.
I am going on vacation.
4a. « Po górach–Loc., dolinach-Loc. rozlega sie dzwon. »
« Over the mountains (and) the valleys spreads itself the (sound of) the bell. »
= The bell is heard over the mountains and the valleys. (from a popular Marian song)
4b. Po co–Acc. tu przyszedles ?
What for have you come ?
4c. Po czemu–Dat. (sa) te jablka ?
For what (= For how much) are these apples a piece ?
5a. Marzymy o pokoju–Loc.
We are dreaming about/of peace.
5b. Walczymy o pokój–Acc.
We are struggling for peace.
The fact that, in addition to their usage with the locative, the prepositions w, na, po and o can also combine with the accusative (and, in the case of po, also with the dative) suggests that in their semantic composition they contain an element of meaning which is shared by the locative and the other case or cases. One could also argue, on the basis of this observable fact, that in the significate of the locative proper there must be an element of meaning that distinguishes it from the other cases that employ the same prepositions. The task of a linguist in search of a unified semantic description of the locative case is to isolate this semantic element. In terms of the classical Aristotelian principles of categorization, stemming from the belief in the existence of distinctive features that determine a given item’s membership or non-membership in a category, defining the specific (i.e. « core », « underlying », « basic »or even « potential ») meaning of the locative case consists in finding a semantic characteristic that distinguishes the semantic import of this case from the semantic import of all other cases in a given language.2
Only one locative preposition, the preposition przy (by, near, close, etc.), is exclusive to the locative, as it does not co-occur with any other of the Polish cases. This empirical fact suggests that among the locative prepositions, the preposition przy is the one that is fully compatible with the meaning of the locative case as such. Therefore, a detailed study of the Polish przy-locatives should bring one closest to the specific meaning of this case.
In his 1936 study on the general meanings of the Russian cases, Jakobson suggested that the distinguishing semantic characteristics of the locative case consists in the ability of the locative-marked substantive to limit the extension (in the basic spatial or metaphorical sense) of the entity evoked as what is being located in the locative relationship (« the locative…defines the extension and in fact the full extension of the object which is the dominant category » Jakobson 1984 : 90).3 For example, in the locative relationship between the fiddler and the roof in the expression with the locative case a fiddler on the roof = skrzypek na dachu Loc., the spatial extension of the located entity, the fiddler, (which Jakobson would call the « dominant category »), is determined by the limits of the locus where this entity is found, in this expression evoked by the locative-marked substantive dach (= roof). We do not know and thus cannot visualize the spatial limits of the locus, i.e. the roof, in this example, but we can imagine the figure (or its contours) of the located entity, the fiddler, for the picture of this entity is evoked in our minds against its background locus in space, the roof. The limits of the located, dominant category are well specified by the locus on which the located entity is placed, and the full spatial extension of the located category is thus also determined.
One particular objective of the semantic analysis of the Polish przy-locatives considered in this study is to find out if Jakobson’s specification of the locative’s essence formulated for Russian applies to and can be confirmed by the przy-locative uses in Polish. The other goal will be to determine whether the Polish prepositional phrases with przy, the preposition exclusive to the locative, could be considered as the most representative, prototypical examples of the locative case category in this language.
Even though the term « prototype » is common currency among cognitive linguists, there appears to be no agreement as to its unanimous definition. Taylor (1989 : 42) suggests that prototypes are the optimal, most representative examples of a given category, which can « serve as reference points for the categorization of non-so-clear instances ». He also observes, following the conclusions reached by Rosch (1975), a psychologist who is credited with first applying the term « prototype » to the classification of linguistic categories, that « if people are asked to name exemplars of a given category, they tend to mention the more prototypical members first » (Taylor 1989 : 45). These statements imply that the decision as to what constitutes a prototype of a given category is made by each individual speaker on the basis of his own experience, and the generally used descriptive terms, such as « the most central, the most representative member » have no clear objective definition acceptable by linguists of different theoretical persuasions. Taylor (1989 : 59) admits that there are at least two ways in which the term « prototype » is interpreted by cognitive linguists : (a) it can denote the central member (or members) of a category, or (b) it can be understood as an abstract concept, « a schematic representation of the conceptual core of a category ». It is worth noting that Rosch herself does not accept either of the above definitions used by cognitive linguists, but restricts her application of the term to the standard parameters employed to describe experimental results in psychology (where protypes are characterized on the basis of the subjects’ membership judgements, reaction times, etc.) (See Taylor 1989 : 59-60, footnote 1).
Reflecting on the problem of a possible prototype for a uniquely prepositional two-word case, such as the locative, Janda (1993 : 205) envisages two solutions : « Either a single prepositional usage would be found to be central or, barring this, an abstract idealized central concept would need to be posited, which would serve as an ’empty center’ around which the network would be arranged ». In the light of Janda’s tentative proposals, the przy-locative usage appears to be an ideal candidate for the locative category prototypical center in Polish since the combination of the locative case with the only exclusively locative preposition in this usage offers a desired, searched for concentration of the typically locative elements, a characteristic which brings this usage closest to the abstract concept of the core locative meaning.
The relationships expressed by the locative-marked substantives in the uses of the przy-phrases listed in three Polish dictionaries, Doroszewski 1980, Skorupka et al. 1969, and Stanislawski 1969, can be classified into the following groups : (a) that denoting the physical (spatial) and/or mental proximity of the locative substantive’s significate to the located entity ; (b) that of parallelism (simultaneity) in time with the dominant (i.e. located) entity ; (c) that of dependence or presence in the sphere of influence of the locative-denoted entity ; (d) that of accompanying circumstances ; (e) that of juxtaposition producing the effect of contrast.
The sentences in examples (6) – (11) illustrate these five usage types of the Polish przy-locative phrases :
- – Going against the customary practice of contrasting the nominative with the accusative and the genitive (see e.g. Guillaume 1992, or compare the method of teaching cases prevalent in American handbooks of Latin, Old English, or other case languages), Jakobson (1936/1984) appears to support the Slavic tradition when he emphasizes the contrast between the nominative and the locative in his well known study of the meaning of cases in Russian, stating that these two cases are « diametrically opposed », and that they should be viewed as the two « antipodes » marking the opposite ends of the Rusian six- case scale (Jakobson 1936/1984 : 90).
- – Since the ultimate goal of the semantic theories of case is basically the same : to find the meaning contained in a particular case form and describe it in a coherent manner, whether it be done in terms of the cognitivist network model (similar to those proposed by Janda 1993 or Rudzka-Ostyn 1994), the Jakobsonian feature model (see Jakobson 1936/1984) or a Guillaumean technique of mental representation based on the notion of the potential significate (see Guillaume 1964), for the practical, data-oriented purpose of this research, I consider the various terms used in reference to the particular case underlying meaning by representatives of different schools (the « basic », « core », « general » or « potential » meaning) as equivalent.
- – Jakobson’s generalization applies to the Russian L2 (« the locative stressed -u locative » as opposed to the « explicative unstressed -e locative » see Jakobson 1995 : 365, 367). Unlike Polish, which has only one locative case inflection, Russian sometimes distinguishes two locatives (similarly to the differentiation between two Russian genitives) with a perceptible difference in meaning signalled by the two inflectional endings. In general terms, the -u marked locative depicts the primary physical relation of container, bounded area ormeasurement, while the other, L1 -e locative has a more metaphorical character. See e.g. the semantic difference between na domu-Loc. (at home) and o dome-Loc. (about the house) in Russian, as described by Jakobson (1995 : 365). Jakobson observes that « with the prepositions o, pri the L2 cannot be used […] since these prepositions do not indicate the shaping function of the referent » (Jakobson 1995 : 367), but he does not explain how this observation about Russian L1 locatives should be related to his earlier generalization about the locative case core meaning.
Physical or abstract proximity
6a. Goscie siedzieli przy stole-Loc.
The guests were sitting at the table.
6b. Mieszkam przy poczcie-Loc.
I live near the post-office.
6c. Myslami jestem przy was-Loc.
Through (= in) my thoughts, I am near (by, with) you.
6d. Zastalem go przy pracy-Loc.
I found him at work.
6e. Nie mówmy o tym przy dzieciach-Loc.
Let’s not talk about it in the presence of the children (when the children are nearby).
In examples (6a) and (6b), the locative-marked substantives define the actions referred to by the predicates (the guests’ sitting and my living) by specifying their place. The preposition przy here emphasizes the physical closeness of the loci to these actions, but no details as to the spatial arrangement, for example, of the guests at the table (such as in wokól stolu-Gen = around the table), or the type of spatial relationship between my appartment and the post-office (such as e.g. nad poczta-Instr. = over the post-office or powyzej poczty-Gen. = up the street from, higher than, above the post- office) are given. The main and only idea communicated by the przy-locatives in these examples is that of physical proximity of the locating entities to the entities being located, and therefore defined or « limited », to use Jakobson’s term, in their extension. This relative vagueness, in terms of the indication of physical detail in spatial arrangement, of the preposition przy explains why the physical przy-locatives often collocate with verbs indicating the action of coming or bringing (people or objects) together, as in the common expressions meet over (= for) coffee (spotkac sie przy kawie) or gather together by the camp-fire, assemble (= zebrac sie przy ognisku).
In contrast to example (6e), where the locative PP stresses the physical presence of the children at the time and place of the action evoked by the « dominant category », and thus the spatial and the temporal proximity of the locus (defined by the children’s presence) to the event evoked by the predicate, the locative expression in example (6c) evokes the mental closeness of the locus (me) to the place occupied by the subject. The idea expressed by przy here is that of « standing by somebody », close to what is communicated by the Latin prefix ad– in words such as assist. In example (6d) the use of przy emphasizes the closeness (both physical and mental) of man to his work. The meaning of the substantive praca (= work) can be interpreted as a place of work (e.g. Zastalem go przy biurku/ komputerze = I found him at his desk/ computer), or as its object (Zastalem go przy koniach = I found him [occupied] with his horses).
Parallelism (simultaneity) in time
7a. Nie powinnismy poruszac tak nieprzyjemnych tematów przy Bozym Narodzeniu–Loc.
We shouldn’t start those unpleasant topics at the time of Christmas.
7b. Przy sobocie-Loc. lubie siasc w fotelu z lampka wina i dobra ksiazka.
When it’s Saturday, I like to sit in an armchair with a glass of wine and a good book.
7c. Korkociag zlamal sie przy otwieraniu-Loc. butelki.
The corkscrew broke while we were opening the bottle.
7d. Przy lada wstrzasie-Loc., ranny tracil przytomnosc.
The wounded man would lose consciousness at every bump (whenever the car hit a bump on the road).
In examples (7a) and (7b) the conventional periods of time, such as Christmas or Saturday, denoted by the przy-locatives, are viewed as elements accompanying and in some way affecting (and thus determining, in the Jakobsonian sense), the events evoked by the predicates. These time substantives are not just background elements defining the time of the described events, as they would be in non-locative expressions such as Przyjade na Boze Narodzenie-Acc. (I’ll come at Christmas-Acc.), or w sobote- Acc. (on Saturday-Acc), but they are viewed as important occasions or events which are parallel in time with the events expressed by the sentences’ predicates, and which carry independent verbal (i.e. temporal) meaning of their own. That’s why an accurate English translation of przy Bozym Narodzeniu cannot be at Christmas, but something equivalent to when it’s the time of Christmas, and the locative przy sobocie is certainly not just on Saturday. In example (7c) the two events, the breaking of the corkscrew and the opening of the bottle correlate in time, and the preposition przy with the locative indicates their temporal simultaneity. The circumstance evoked by the locative-marked substantive (the opening of the bottle) can be interpreted as the immediate cause of the main event (the breaking of the corkscrew). This causal relationship is even more apparent in example (7d) where the bumping of the car is perceived as the immediate cause of the man’s fainting. The preposition przy is often used to indicate a causal relationship in today’s Polish, a fact which is criticized by the Polish stylistic purists who deplore the vagueness caused by the use of przy in many such expressions (see e.g. Miodek 1983).
Dependance or presence in the sphere of influence
8a. Mój synek chodzi do przedszkola przy uniwersytecie- Loc.
My son goes to the nursery school at (belonging to) the university.
8b. Mieszkam przy rodzicach-Loc.
I live at (with) my parents (and I depend on them financially).
8c. Nie mam zawodu. Na pytanie o zawód odpowiadam « przy mezu » -Loc.
I have no profession. To the question about profession I reply « with husband ».
My son’s nursery school of example (8a) is situated near the university. When taken in its purely spatial sense the preposition przy indicates location near the object evoked by the locative-marked substantive. Logically (and in accordance with the reasoning of Aristotle who in his Physics book IV, chapters 1-5, in Hutchins 1952 advocates the view that locative relationships are reversible) if a is near b, so b is near a, i.e. in example (8a), if the nursery is near the university, the university should be near the nursery. But the przy-locative here in addition to its basic spatial sense, expresses another, metaphorical meaning, hard to account for in terms of abstract logical relationships : the locative-marked substantive determines the object or event it refers to by placing it in the sphere of its significate’s influence. The relationship of the two involved entities is no longer reversible : the locative-marked entity exerts control, and thus, in the broad sense of the term, determines the manner of being of the other entity. In example (8b) the subject not only lives with his parents, but also depends on them financially. The expression « przy mezu » (with husband) of example (8c) also implies financial dependence of a wife on her husband. One could say again that the locative-marked element determines the meaning of the significate it refers to, but it would be difficult to maintain, as Jakobson would have it, that the extension of the defined entity is delimited in full. The locative essence of the expressions with przy here, as well as in the preceding examples (6) and (7), appears to lie in the physical or mental proximity or simultaneous presence in space, time or with some general condition, of the two elements linked by the locative case.
9a. Najpierw zaprosil mnie na kolacje przy swiecach-Loc., a potem tanczylismy przy muzyce-Loc.
First he invited me to supper by candlelight, and then we danced to the sound of music.
9b. Przy pomyslnym wietrze-Loc. dotrzemy do portu przed zachodem slonca.
With a fair wind, we will reach the port before sunset.
9c. Przy braku-Loc. swiatla, nie bylo nic widac.
One could see nothing with ( = because of) the black- out.
9d. Przy odrobinie-Loc. cierpliwosci znajdziesz to, czego szukasz.
With a dint of patience you will find what you are looking for.
Examples in (9) illustrate the use of the przy-locative to express circumstances accompanying the main event. These circumstances, such as the candles at supper and the music in example (9a), or the fair wind of example (9b) can be favourable, or unfavourable (as the black-out in example (9c)) ; they can be physical (examples 9a-9c) or mental (9d), strongly influential on the main event (9b-9d) or relatively indifferent (9a). They do not provide the time and place parameters necessary to locate the event in space, but they evoke additional defining elements the speaker wants to bring to the fore. The role of the przy-locative in these examples is to bring these additional elements into the picture of the event, but the precise manner in which they are related to the event is not specified. The main event as such does not depend on these elements to the extent it would if other, more precise locative prepositions were used, as in the sentences : Nie dostrzeglem szczególów w swietle ksiezyca (I did not notice the details in the light of the moon) ; Zmienilem zdanie w swietle tych danych (I changed my mind in the light of these facts), where the preposition w (in) is needed and cannot be substituted by przy automatically. On the basis of the examples in (9), it would again be quite impossible to say that the locative-marked entity defines the extension limits of the event it relates to. The przy-locative here just brings the accompanying elements into the picture of the event and accentuates their presence in (or their co-presence with) the main event.
Juxtaposition producing the effect of contrast
10a. Przy bladej twarzy-Loc. jej ciemne oczy wydawaly sie prawie czarne.
Her dark eyes seemed almost black against the pale face.
10b. Przy wszystkich swych zdolnosciach i wysilku-Loc., nie udalo mu sie zdac tego egzaminu.
In spite of all his talents and the effort, he did not manage to pass the exam.
The przy-locatives in examples (10a) and (10b) introduce entities which express a physical (10a) or mental (10b) contrast with the lexical content of the significates of the phrases defined by the locative expressions. In (10a) the girl’s pale face is contrasted with the darkness of her eyes ; in (10b) the subject’s talent and effort remain in obvious opposition to his failure at the exam. The fact that the preposition przy is used for the stylistic effect of contrast confirms the suggestion that the two elements brought together by the przy-locative expressions are of equal importance in the speaker’s mind since one cannot contrast elements of unequal rank or value. The determination of the entity referred to by the locative expression is due to the conditioning element introduced by the locative phrase. The darkness of the girl’s eyes is exposed because of the element of paleness supplied by the locative’s significate ; and the failing at the exam is emphasized by contrast with the talent and effort evoked by the locative-marked substantives. While the effect of contrast is produced by the contrasting lexical values of the juxtaposed elements, the role of the przy-locative is merely to bring these elements together. The extent to which the locative-marked elements determine the entity evoked by the predicate is impossible to define.
An examination of the semantic effects produced by the przy-locatives in Polish leads to the following conclusions :
- Jakobson’s formulation of the basic locative meaning for the locative in Russian does not quite apply to the Polish przy-locatives : while the przy-locatives always affect (and therefore determine in some way) the entity evoked by the sentence predicate or the modified, non-locative category (a semantic role which agrees with the primarily adverbial grammatical function of the locative phrases in sentences), it is practically impossible to specify the limits of this determination in terms of Jakobson’s « fully delimited extension » of the dominant, non-locative category. In przy– locatives the picture of the event or of the entity referred to by the locative is only enriched by the presence of the additional elements introduced by the significates of the locative NP’s, but it cannot be said to be fully determined.
- Conclusion (1) suggests that complete delimitation of the main referent’s extension is not the general underlying meaning of the Polish locative, and that Jakobson’s proposal needs to be modified to account for the semantic effects of the Polish przy-locatives.
- The semantic essence of the przy-locatives, and perhaps of the locative relationship as such, appears to lie in the ability of this case to express the proximity (evoked in either physical or mental terms) of the locative-signified entity to the entity that is being referred to by the locative expression. No details specifying the manner in which the entities are brought together are specified ; the general abstract idea is that of coming together of two elements for the purpose of creating a fuller picture of the event.
- The notion of coming together or co-presence of two elements, expressed by the Polish przy-locatives appears to be a defendable candidate for the locative’s central, idealized (i.e. abstract) meaning.
- The notion of coming together of two elements contained in the preposition przy and in the locative case morpheme does not express the locative prototype if the term is to be understood as the locative use most likely to be quoted by respondents as a typical example of the locative case category. The meaning expressed by the przy-locative, however, appears to agree with the specific senses of the other locative uses (see Bacz 1996), but whether the przy– locative usage or the meaning specific to this usage can be considered as the prototype of the Polish locative case needs to be confirmed by further research.
- A large class of the Polish verbs with the prefix przy-, such as przychodzic (come to), przybijac (fix together by beating), przyznac (admit), przypomniec (bring back to mind), etc. appear to confirm the conclusion reached about the meaning of the preposition przy and the przy-locatives. A separate study analysing the relationship between the prefix przy- and the preposition przy in Polish needs to be conducted.
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