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#119408 - 01/10/04 09:19 AM Prepositional crossovers
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
Modifying my knowledge of language always, I remain open-minded to how the rules of our language are in flux. Those rules and their specific relationship to lexicographical changes in partciular also challenge me to remain open-minded to this language in flux. To fight the changes would be to turn into a stone.

Now prepositional crossovers are what I think of as words that weren't always prepositions, but at some point in the history of the language became recognized as functioning recognizably and immediately as a preposition functions.

Consider the following list of simple prepositions:

from
for
off
of
to
in

...and so on for the simple ones.

Now consider a list of compound prepositions:

alongside of
along with
out of
outside of

...and so on.

But the most interesting group to me are those present participle forms--those verbs with the 'ing' attached--that somehow over time developed into being both present participles and prepositions:

concerning
considering
regarding
excepting

...and so on.

My question is:

How do the lexicographers determine at what point a participle may also receive a nomination for becoming a preposition?


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#119409 - 01/10/04 09:41 AM Re: Prepositional crossovers
jheem Offline
veteran

Registered: 01/06/04
Posts: 1474
Loc: California
Now prepositional crossovers are what I think of as words that weren't always prepositions, but at some point in the history of the language became recognized as functioning recognizably and immediately as a preposition functions.

Many prepositions crossed over from other words, too. For example: near and next (to) are originally the comparative and superlative forms of nigh and are still used as adjectives. The re in the subject line above is a Latin noun in the ablative case (res 'thing, matter, case') meaning something like 'in regard to, in the matter of, concerning'. Sometimes when a word changes its syntactic category its just a common and normal situation. For example, nobody would complain of turning verbs into nouns with suffixes like -ing / -ed), but if somebody turns architect from a noun to a verb, some people get bent out of shape. Lexicographers tend to be on the conservative side. Not all neologisms or slang terms make it into the dictionary. It seems like concerning has been being used as a preposition since the 15th century.


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#119410 - 01/10/04 09:58 AM Re: Prepositional crossovers
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
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Registered: 03/13/01
Posts: 4189
Loc: Rio Grande, Cape May County, N...
Hey, Dub-Dub...are you tryin' to preposition us?

now "preposition" os a verb, too...so there!


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#119411 - 01/10/04 10:04 AM Re: Prepositional crossovers
Jackie Offline

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Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
An interesting topic, WW. And good for you, with your open-mindedness. I tend to be a stone, myself. To satisfy my curiosity, I looked up ([crossthreading e] now, there's a phrase where we could not leave out the word 'up') preposition in Gurunet. Check out the Usage Note.
prep·o·si·tion1 (prĕp'ə-zĭsh'ən)
n. (Abbr. prep.)

A word or phrase placed typically before a substantive and indicating the relation of that substantive to a verb, an adjective, or another substantive, as English at, by, with, from, and in regard to.

[Middle English preposicioun, from Old French preposicion, from Latin praepositiô, praepositiôn-, a putting before, preposition (translation of Greek prothesis), from praepositus, past participle of praepônere, to put in front : prae-, pre- + pônere, to put.]

USAGE NOTE It was John Dryden who first promulgated the doctrine that a preposition may not be used at the end of a sentence, probably on the basis of a specious analogy to Latin. Grammarians in the 18th century refined the doctrine, and the rule has since become one of the most venerated maxims of schoolroom grammar. But sentences ending with prepositions can be found in the works of most of the great writers since the Renaissance. English syntax does allow for final placement of the preposition, as in We have much to be thankful for or I asked her which course she had signed up for. Efforts to rewrite such sentences to place the preposition elsewhere can have stilted and even comical results, as Winston Churchill demonstrated when he objected to the doctrine by saying “This is the sort of English up with which I cannot put.”•Sometimes sentences that end with adverbs, such as I don't know where she will end up or It's the most curious book I've ever run across, are mistakenly thought to end in prepositions. One can tell that up and across are adverbs here, not prepositions, by the ungrammaticality of I don't know up where she will end and It's the most curious book across which I have ever run. It has never been suggested that it is incorrect to end a sentence with an adverb.

pre·po·si·tion2 also pre-po·si·tion (prç'pə-zĭsh'ən)
tr.v., -tioned, -tion·ing, -tions.
To position or place in position in advance: artillery that was prepositioned at strategic points in the desert.





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#119412 - 01/10/04 10:17 AM Re: Prepositional crossovers
grapho Offline
addict

Registered: 11/09/03
Posts: 619
Loc: Carpal Tunnel Country
How do the lexicographers determine at what point a participle may also receive a nomination for becoming a preposition?

Looks like they survey millions of pages of current examples.

"Taken as a whole, these Reading Programmes represent one of the most extensive surveys of the English language ever undertaken. Since the first publication of the Oxford English Dictionary, the breadth of materials available and the means of retrieving and analyzing those materials have expanded incalculably. Despite the changes, the original aim of the programme remains unaltered since the days of James A. H. Murray: to collect examples of the changing vocabulary of English from a highly diverse range of published sources spanning the entire English-speaking world, and to provide the Oxford English Dictionary's editors with a constantly updated and ever more detailed record of English past and present."

http://dictionary.oed.com/about/reading.html

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#119413 - 01/13/04 12:08 AM Re: Prepositional crossovers
Bingley Offline
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Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
In reply to:

if somebody turns architect from a noun to a verb, some people get bent out of shape.


So turn your architects carefully, preferably under the supervision of an adult, if you don't want them to get bent out of shape.

Bingley

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Bingley

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#119414 - 01/13/04 03:04 AM Re: Prepositional crossovers
maverick Offline
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Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
Hey, the world would be duller if all architects were straight ;)


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#119415 - 01/26/04 05:54 PM Re: Prepositional crossovers
TEd Remington Offline
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Registered: 07/17/00
Posts: 3467
Loc: Marion NC
>It was John Dryden who first promulgated the doctrine that a preposition may not be used at the end of a sentence, probably on the basis of a specious analogy to Latin.

It was the Dukie's first time in Chapel Hill, and she KNEW she shouldn't be wearing a Duke sweatshirt, but the story wouldn't go on without it, so wear the sweatshirt she did. She stopped a coed wearing Carolina blue and said, "Can you tell me where the UNC library's at?"

The coed sneered, "Don't they teach you at Duke not to end a sentence with a preposition?" The Duke smiled sweetly and said, "You're right. Let me rephrase: Where's the library at, asshole?"

Whenever Peggy and I have words, which isn't often, she smiles sweetly and says, "The library's over there," leaving the endearment unsaid but recognized.

_________________________
TEd

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#119416 - 01/26/04 06:00 PM Re: Prepositional crossovers
Buffalo Shrdlu Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/24/02
Posts: 7210
Loc: Vermont
library

hehe. thanks for the laugh, TEd.

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formerly known as etaoin...

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#119417 - 01/27/04 09:12 AM Re: Prepositional crossovers
jheem Offline
veteran

Registered: 01/06/04
Posts: 1474
Loc: California
Hadn't heard it attributed to Dryden before. Anyway, the irony of the whole preposition at the end of a sentence thing is that in PIE prepositions were probably postpositions, coming after the noun, as was still posssible in Vedic Sanskrit. In Sanskrit and Greek preverbs (which look a whole lot like prepositions) could separate from the verb (called tmesis in Greek, from the same stem as atom). In Latin, they're fused to the verb, so Dryden or whoever's analogy was specious indeed. One of the beautiful things about Latin, as well as many other inflected languages, is that word order can be played around with, words ending up all over the phrase / sentence because you can sort out the meaning via the case endings and meaning.

PS, I've also heard the anecdote that a secretary had corrected one of Churchill's speeches pointing out that a preposition should never occur at the end of a sentence. He replied in writing, "This is a rule up with which I shall not put."


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