When I was learning grammar in school, I thought I knew what a preposition was. I couldn’t really define it, but I thought I knew what it was. I knew that they were about connecting concept (“about”, “concerning”), or about helping to express location (“in”, “on”), or direction (“to”, “from”), or time (“during”, “after”). But I never thought much about them. They just were.
And then earlier this year, all that changed.
Japanese, though it has its analogue, doesn’t have prepositions. Hebrew does, Spanish does, JSL does, Patois does; but not crazy Japanese. No; it decided to flip the script.
Japanese has postpositions.
I couldn’t believe I didn’t see it sooner. Prepositions are so called because they usually precede the noun or verb or whatever; that’s their position.
All those things that my Japanese teachers simply called “particles” (in Japanese, 助詞, joshi, helper words) were postpositional words and suffixes. Damn… How did I not see it sooner?
It’s easy enough to find examples:
shichiji ni okiru
wake up at 7:00
gakkou e iku
go to school
uchi ni imasu
to be at home
And there’s some that have no analogue in English:
chikin wo tabemasu
boku wa gakusei desu
I’m a student
And here’s another that’s not always expressed as a separate morpheme in English:
Akiko no hon
watashi no haha
my mother (the mother of me)
All of these come after the words they “govern”; the exact opposite of English. I wonder how many other languages do this…
Anyway, prepositions and postpositions are together called adpositions in linguistics. And strangely enough, even though there are postpositions (most common one: “ago“) in English, they’re usually just called prepositions. I guess since there are so few of them.
Learnt something new, I did.