Re: Lots of prepositions

Subject: Re: Lots of prepositions
From: "Matthew B. Hicks" <matt -at- UNIDATA -dot- UCAR -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 1996 13:32:23 -0700

On Fri, 12 Jan 1996, Stuart Burnfield wrote:

> The alt.usage.english newsgroup covers this and many other problems and
> curiosities of the language. It's a good place for this sort of discussion.
> >From the FAQ:

> > (2) The Guinness Book of (World) Records used to have a category
> > for "most prepositions at end". The incumbent record was a sentence
> > put into the mouth of a boy who didn't want to be read excerpts from
> > a book about Australia as a bedtime story: "What did you bring that
> > book that I don't want to be read to from out of about 'Down Under'
> > up for?" Mark Brader (msb -at- sq -dot- com -- all this is to the best of his
> > recollection; he didn't save the letter, and doesn't have access to
> > the British editions) wrote to Guinness, asking: "What did you say
> > that the sentence with the most prepositions at the end was 'What
> > did you bring that book that I don't want to be read to from out of
> > about "Down Under" up for?' for? The preceding sentence has one
> > more." Norris McWhirter replied, promising to include this
> > improvement in the next British edition, but actually it seems that
> > Guinness, no doubt eventually realising that this could be done
> > recursively, dropped the category.

It would appear that this category (if it in fact ever existed) was for
the greatest number of different words that might be used as
prepositions that could be strung together. "Down" and "under" are indeed
generally used as prepositions, but in this case they are two parts of a
proper compound noun. And I believe we once again find "for" acting as an
adverb, so we have a sentence ending in no true prepositions. So if the
sentence was selected as ending with the greatest number of words that
*can* serve as prepositions, adding a second and subsequent "for"s would
not increase the count, as they would merely duplicate an already counted
word. Never mind the fact that the second and subsequent "for"s would be
acting as adverbs, just as the original is. Color me dubious.

-Matt Hicks
matt -at- unidata -dot- ucar -dot- edu
Owner of the Dal-l Web pages:
http://www.unidata.ucar.edu/staff/matt/dal-l.html


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