ENVELOPING AMBIPOSITIONS in SULEIMANIYE KURDISH
Robyn C. Friend, Ph.D.
The Institute of Persian Performing Arts
17 May, 1985
First presented at the annual meeting of the South Asian Language Association, 1985

ABSTRACT

This paper describes some of the issues surrounding the use of prepositions and postpositions in Suleimaniye Kurdish, a north-western Iranian language spoken in Suleimaniye, Iraq.

Suleimaniye Kurdish employs both prepositions and postpositions.  These can be used together, with a preposition before the object noun-phrase (NP) and a postposition after the object NP.  These types of constructions are called “ambipositions”.  Suleimaniye Kurdish has many different prepositions, but only two commonly-occuring postpositions:  /(d)â/ and /awa/.  Two issues concerning the use of ambiposition constructions in Suleimaniye Kurdish are the following:  (1) What is the difference in usage between postpositions?; and (2) What is the difference between a prepositional phrase with a postposition and a prepositional phrase without a postposition?  Examination of these issues seems to indicate that the differences are lexical, i.e., each NP or preposition-NP combination determines whether or not a postposition is used, and in the case where a postposition is used, which one it will be.

1.0 Introduction

This paper describes some of the issues surrounding the use of prepositions and postpositions in Suleimaniye Kurdish, a north-western Iranian language spoken in Suleimaniye, Iraq.

Suleimaniye Kurdish employs both prepositions and postpositions.  These can be used together, with a preposition before the object noun-phrase (NP) and a postposition after the object NP [ McCarus 1958:76 ]. I refer to these types of constructions by the term “ambipositions”, following Masica’s usage [1976].

1.1 Enveloping Ambipositions

Suleimaniye Kurdish has many different prepositions, but only two commonly-occuring postpositions:  /-(d)â/ and /-awa/.  The following examples show these postpositions as used in ambiposition constructions in Suleimaniye Kurdish:

                          _
 (1)    la mil          - a
        prepE<-- obj    - postE
          |        neck   - |
          |_____'on'_____  _|

     'round its neck'

     [ MacKenzie 1962:6 ]
  (2)  nâ  -  twân  - im  la   xo   - m  - awa    nâw  - î   bi   -  nê  - m
       T/A -  PRES  - I  preE <-obj - II - postE  COMP - II  T/A  - PRES - I
                      S            poss                  DO                S
       neg - be able- I   at  self  - my - postE  name - him  subj-  do  - I

     'I cannot name him myself'

     [ MacKenzie 1962:4 ]
(3)  bang - î    ?   -  dâ    ba   gö   - y   - â
     COMP - II  T/A  - PAST  preE <-obj - II  - postE
       S        poss
     call - he  perf - gave   to   ear  - his - postE

     'he spoke into his ear'

     [ MacKenzie 1962:6 ]
1.2 Ambipositional Phrases with Directional Verbs

Ambipositions are also used in Suleimaniye Kurdish with directional verbs, i.e., verbs which, in Suleimaniye Kurdish, are followed by a noun phrase complement which describes a destination.  A directional verb, or its destination,  is marked to show that the directional complement ( i.e., the destination) of the verb is in some way an intransitive object of the verb.  Such a directional complement is more closely linked to the verb syntactically than other possible complements, such as adverbial complements of time and manner.  The primary markers of directional verbs and their directional complements are (1) the prepositions, which introduce  the  complement,  and   (2) the postpositions  /-a/ (this suffix is probably related to the postposition /-(d)â/) and  /-awa/, which are suffixed either to the verb or to the directional complement.  I will be concerned in this section with directional complements enveloped by an ambipositional phrase, which have the following form:  preposition + directional complement + postposition.

There are two ways to signal that a phrase which follows the verb is a directional complement, and therefore, that the verb is a directional verb. Either (1), a postposition ( /-a/ or /-awa/ ) is suffixed to the verb, as follows:
^
(4)   dast - î    ?    -  bird   -  a    baxal – î
       DO  - II  T/A   -  PAST   - dir dir compl
        S
      hand - he  perf  - carried - dir  pocket - his

      'he put his hand in his pocket"

(5)   bâ    bi  - î   - gayên  - în - awa
      imp  T/A  - II  - PRES   - I  - dir
                  DO             S
      come impera-him - convey - we - dir

         ^
       mal  - î   xô  - yân
             dir compl
      house - ez  own - their

      "let's take him back to his home"

or, (2), a preposition introduces the destination phrase:

                             v                    v
 (6)   tâ  wakû  min  bi  -  c    - im  bo   darwêsi
         conj     S  T/A  - PRES  - I  prep  dir compl
                                    S
       so that    I  subj -  go   - I   to  dervishhood

      "so that I [may] become a dervish"

The destination phrase may or may not be followed by a postposition:

                       v
  (7)       min  a  -  c   - im  ba dwâ   - y  - â
             S  T/A - PRES - I  comp preE - II - postE
                             S               <-obj
             I  imp -  go  - I    after   - it - postE

          'I am going after it'

  [ MacKenzie 1962:8 ]

Directional verbs which have neither a postposition on the verb, nor a preposition introducing the destination, are ungrammatical.

2.0 Distribution of Postpositions

Two issues concerning the use of ambiposition constructions in Suleimaniye Kurdish are the following:  (1) What is the difference in usage between postpositions?; and (2) What is the difference between a prepositional phrase with a postposition and a prepositional phrase without a postposition?

A theoretically possible explanation for the difference in usage between the two is that they are semantically different.  In fact, Taufiq Wahby, in his Kurdish-English Dictionary has stated that enveloping ambipositions in which the preposition is a compound preposition formed with /ba/ are generally used with the postposition /-(d)â/ to indicate movement, and /-awa/ to indicate rest. [ 1966:9 ].  But this says nothing about the use of these postpositions with simple enveloping adpositions.

When these postpositions are suffized to directional verbs, there is some discernible difference in meaning.  When suffixed to a directional verb, the postposition /-awa/ adds a meaning  of “return” or “repetition” to a verb.  Compare the first sentence, which follows with the second:

                                       ^
 (8)  dast - î    ?    -  bird - â baxal -  î
       DO  - II  T/A   -  PAST     dir compl
        S
      hand - he  perf  - carried  pocket - his

      'he put his hand in his pocket'

                                            ^
 (9)  dast - î    ?   -  bird      bô   baxal -  î
       DO  - II  T/A  -  PAST     prep   dir compl
             S
      hand - he  perf - carried  'for' pocket - his

'he reached for his pocket"

In the first example, /-a/ on the verb indicates a stationary direction (“he put his hand in his pocket”), while in the second example the preposition indicates motion towards (“he reached for his pocket”).  Compare these same examples with the example below in which /-awa/ has been suffixed to the verb:
                                                     ^
 (10)  dast - î    ?    -  bird   - awa  bô      baxal -  î
        DO  - II  T/A   -  PAST   - dir  prep     dir compl
              S
       hand - he  perf  - carried - dir  'for' pocket  - his

      'he reached for his pocket again"

Clearly, /-awa/ in this context has a meaning similar to the /re-/ prefix in English.  However, these example do not deal specifically with the differences between the two postpositions in ambipositional phrases.

In fact, my investigations indicate that the differences in usage between the two postpositions in lexically determined by the NP object of the ambiposition.  In the remainder of this paper, I examine the various preposition-postposition combinations to determine rules governing the usage of each combination.

3.0 Rules Governing Distribution of Postpositions

3.1 Distribution of Prepositional Phrases With and Without Postpositions

There are three logical possibilities for preposition-postposition combinations which must be compared:

1. preposition NP 0
2. preposition NP-(d)â;
3. preposition NP-awa.

I took sentences from the text “Shah Ismail and Qamberta” [MacKenzie 1962:4-33], and tried all three variations with my native speaker.  From the evidence, the difference in choice between no postposition (Type 1), /-(d)â/ as a postposition (Type 2), and /-awa/ as a postposition (Type 3) seems to be lexical.  The following examples illustrate the point that of the three possibilities, only one is permissible in each case:

 (11) a   tô   la  jêgâ   -  y    min  wakîl  ba
           S   prep<-obj  -  ez<--obj   NP    COP/impera
           you  in  place - 'of'  me  deputy  be

          "you be deputy in my place"

          [ MacKenzie 1962:4 ]

    *b   tô la jêgâ-y min-a wakil bâ

    *c   tô la jêgâ-y min-awa wakil bâ

(throughout, examples marked with an asterisk [*] are ungrammatical)

           v                                             v
(12)*a   pâsâ-yak abê la mamlakat-êk-î waku mamlakat-î bagazamin

           v
     b   pâsâ  - yak    abê   la  mamlakat -  êk   - î wâkû
            S  - indef  COP  preE<--obj    - indef - ?  prep
          king - 'a'    was   in  country  -  'a'  - ?  like

                         v
        mamlakat  -  î bagâzamîn   -  dâ
         <--obj   -  ez <-- obj    - postE
         country  - 'of'  Baghdad  -  in

          "Once there was a king in a country like Baghdad-land"

          [ MacKenzie 1962:4 ]

            v                                             v_   _
     *c   pâsâ-yak abê la mamlakat-êk-î wâku mamlakat-î bagâzamîn-awa

 (13)*a   sêw-î kird ba sê lat

     *b   sêw-î kird ba sê lat-a

      c   sêw  - î    ?   - kird   ba   sê    lat   - awa
           DO  - II  T/A  - PAST  prepE  adj   obj  - postE
                 S
         apple - he  perf - did   into  three  part - postE

      "he divided the apple into three pieces"

      [ MacKenzie 1962:4 ]

Of all of the example sentences I tested, only one sentence could be used with more than one of the above types.  There seems to be no ready criteria, (such as the meaning or form of the preposition or the noun phrase, the verb type, etc.), for determining the appropriate choice.  With  regard  to  any semantic difference between /-(d)â/   and  /-awa/, no such difference was apparent in the context of  enveloping ambipositions.  However, it is obvious from the dictionary citations that Wahby has found examples of certain prepositions being used with either postposition, with no stated difference; other examples are cited where there is a difference.  An exhaustive study of the lexicon of Kurdish is probably the only means of determining the essential criteria for choosing between these three possibilities.

3.2 Distribution of Postpositions with Directional Complements

While it is possible to outline some general rules which define the class of directional verbs and which account to some degree for the distribution of the two postpositions versus no postposition, there are still other criteria for choosing between the various possibilities for marking directional verbs and their directional complements which appear to be lexically determined.  Some examples of lexically-determined criteria are as follows:

Some destination complements require a postposition:

                 v
(14) a   ?    -  cû  - ?    bô   sar - awa
        T/A   - PAST - I   prep  dir compl
                       S
        perf  - went - he  to   upstairs

      "he went upstairs"

              v
    *b    ? - cû - ?  bô  sar

                    v
 (15) a      ?   -  cû   - ?  - awa   sar - awa
            T/A  - PAST  - I  - dir   dir compl
                           S
            perf - went  - he - again   upstairs

          "he returned upstairs"

             v
    *b       cû-awa sar

Some destinations do not permit a postposition:
                                                                                      ^
(16)*a     ba    bi   - î   - gayên  - în - awa   mal  - î   xô  - yân
           imp  T/A   - II  - PRES   - I  - dir   ----- dir compl ----
                        DO             S
          come impera - him - convey - we - dir  house - ez  own - their

          "let's take him back to his home"

                                            ^
    *b     ba  bi - î - gayên - în - awa  mal - î  xô - yân- awa

                                     ^
    *c     ba  bi - î - gayen - în mal - î  xô - yân- a

                                                 ^
(17)*a     ba    bi   - î  - gayên  - în  bô   mal  - î xô  - yân
           imp  T/A   - II - PRES   - I  prep  ---- dir compl ---
                        DO            S
          come impera - him- convey - we to  house - ez  own - their

          "let's take him to his home"

                                         ^
    *b     ba  bi - î - gayên - în  bô  mal - î xô - yân - awa

                                         ^
    *c     ba  bi - î - gayên - în  bô  mal - î xô - yân - a

As further evidence of the lexical basis for the choice between these various forms of marking a directional construction, consider the following pairs of grammatical and ungrammatical examples:

 (18)*a    dast-î ? -bird - awa

      b     dast - î    ?   - kird - awa
             DO  - II  T/A  - PAST - dir
                   S
            hand - he  perf - did  - dir

          "he opened his hand"

 (19) a      dast - î   ?    - bird   - awa     bô    baxal - î
              DO  - II  T/A  - PAST   - dir    prep   dir compl
                    S
             hand - he  perf - carry  - dir    'for'  pocket - his

          "he reached for his pocket"

     *b     dast-î ?-kird-awa bô baxal-î

 (20) a      dast - î    ?  - bird   bô     baxal - î
              DO  - II  T/A  - PAST  prep    dir compl
                    S
             hand - he  perf - carry 'for'  pocket - his

          "he reached for his pocket"

     *b       dast-î ?-kird bô baxal-î

 (21)*a      dast-î ?-bird ba baxal-î-(d)â

      b      dast – î    ?   - kird   ba   baxal - î  - (d)â
             DO   - II  T/A  - PAST  prep      dir compl
                    S
             hand - he  perf - carry  to  pocket - his - "at"

          "he put his hand in his pocket"

It would seem that while a finite variety of combinations of directional marking are possible, not all possible combinations are possible with all verbs, even with verbs which are as close in form and function as are /birdin/ and /kirdin/.  No doubt, a thorough study of the lexicon would reveal the various criteria upon which a Kurdish speaker chooses from amongst these combinations for specific lexical items.  It might even be that there are a limited number of such criteria, and that the various lexical items could be arranged in categories based on these criteria.

List of Envelopes (Enveloping Adpositions)

Below is a complete list of envelopes compiled from MacKenzie, McCarus, and Wahby, with notations indicating the source of each.  Most of these examples are from Wahby’s dictionary; thus all examples which are not otherwise noted come from Wahby.  Examples which are found also in other works are indicated by parentheses with the initials of the author from which it comes (MK = MacKenzie, MC = McCarus, W = Wahby).

   a____awa       'into' (MK, W)

   a bin___awa    'to below'
     v_
   a zer___awa    'to below, to under'
     v_
   a zur___awa    'on to, over'

   a kin___awa    'to the side of'
      _
   a naw___awa    'into'
      _^
   a pal___awa    'to the side of'
      _v
   a pas___awa    'to the rear of, until after'
      _v
   a pes___awa    'to the front of'
   v
   a pist___awa   'to behind'

   a tak___awa    'to the side of'
    _
   a xuwar___awa  'to beneath, under'

   ba____awa      'with' (MK)

                  'with, on to, according to, through' (W)
    _
   ba____(d)a     'across, up, on, over, through' (W)

                  'through' (MK)
     _
   ba ambar___(d)a/awa(1)     'on this side of'
          - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
          (1)  Indicates that either /-(d)â/ or /awa/
               may be the postposition.
          - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
     _
   ba amdiw___(d)a/awa    'on this side of'
      v  _
   ba amper___(d)a/awa    'on this side of'
     _
   ba awbar___(d)a/awa    'on that side of'
     _
   ba awdiw___(d)a/awa    'on that side of'
      v  _
   ba awper___(d)a/awa    'on that side of'
   _    _
   ba ban___(d)a/awa      'over, above'
       _
   ba bar___(d)a/awa      'in front of'
      _
   ba bardam___(d)a/awa   'in front of'
       _
   ba bin___(d)a/awa      'below'

   ba dam___awa           'according to the statement of,
                           on the authority of'
                          'simultaneously, together'

   ba das___awa           'in hand, under the control of'
     _
   ba diyar___awa         'in the presence of, beside'
      _
   ba du___(d)a           'after, in search of'

   ba du___awa            'after, following'
    v    _
   ba giz___(d)a          'out against, up against'
       _
   ba kin___(d)a          'beside, close to'
   _    _
   ba naw___(d)a          'inside, through the middle of'
     _  _
   ba nizik___(d)a        'near'
       _
   ba sar___(d)a/awa      'over, on'
      v"         _
   ba son___(d)a/awa      'after, in search of,
                           in the tracks of'
        ++
   ba tang___awa          'out of concern for'
          v         _
   ba tanist___(d)a/awa   'alongside of, near by'
      v_    _
   ba zer___(d)a/awa      'under, below'
      v_    _
   ba zur___(d)a/awa      'over, above'
    _
   bo____awa              'towards'(MK, W)
       _
   la___(d)a              'in'(MC, MK, W)

   la____awa              'from' (MC, MK, W)

                          'at (relative position)'(W)

   la____awdwa            'after'(MK)

   la bar____awa          'within oneself' (MC)
     _     _
   la barambar___(d)a     'opposite to'
     v_   _
   la barcaw___(d)a       'in front of'
      _
   la bardam___(d)a       'in the presence of'
      _
   la bardas___(d)a       'ready to the hand of'
       _
   la bin___(d)a          'below'
      v_    _
   la caw___(d)a          'compared with'

   la dam___awa           'from the mouth of,
                           on the authority of'
       _
   la das___(d)a          'in the power of'
    ^     _
   la gal____(d)a         'with' (MK, MC)
       _
   la haq___(d)a          'concerning'

   la kin____awa          'beside' (MC, W)
   _
   la la____awa           'beside' (MC)
   _
   la layan___awa         'by, by the agency of'
   _    _
   la naw___(d)a          'inside' (MC, W)
   _
   la naw___awa           'out from'
     _  _
   la nizik___(d)a/awa    'near'
   _^
   la pal___awa           'beside'
   _v    _
   la pas___(d)a          'after,' (MC)
   _v    _
   la pas___(d)a/awa      'after, behind'
   _v    _
   la pes___(d)a          'before' (MC)
   _v    _
   la pes___(d)a/awa      'before (time or place)'
    v
   la pist___awa          'behind'
      v   _
   la ru___(d)a           'facing, in the face of'

   la saru___awa          'above'
       _
   la tak___(d)a          'together with'
      v
   la tanist___awa        'beside'
     _  _
   la xuwar___(d)a/awa    'below'
      v_    _
   la zer___(d)a/awa      'under'
      v    _
   la zur___(d)a/awa      'above'

REFERENCES

MacKenzie, D.N.

Kurdish Dialect Studies, volumes 1 and 2, 1962.

Masica, Colin P.

Defining a Linguistic Area, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1976.

McCarus, Ernest N.

A Kurdish Grammar: Descriptive Analysis of the Kurdish of Suleimaniya, Iraq, New York, 1958.

Wahby, Taufiq

A Kurdish-English Dictionary, Oxford, 1966.