Re: Ending a sentence with a preposition (#897726)

Subject: Re: Ending a sentence with a preposition (#897726)
From: Brad Connatser <cwrites -at- USIT -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 1996 17:39:00 GMT

In article <1996091807460575 -dot- 903974 -at- micron -dot- com>, wburns -at- micron -dot- com wrote:

> The preposition rule is but one of many that were drawn from Latin
> grammar (along with the rule about split infinitives). English grammar
> does not share the same structure as Latin, so many of these rules
> don't apply to the natural structure of English.

Just for clarification, Latin is a case-marker language, which does not
rely on syntax as does English, which is a word-order language. The split
infinitive rule does derive from Latin grammar (on which our prescriptive
grammar is based). The rationale for not splitting the infinitive in
English is that the infinitive in Latin is one word; thus the infinitive
parts in English should stay unified (silly, huh?). I don't think that the
rule for not ending a sentence with a preposition is based upon Latin
grammar. Anybody know for sure?

> Perhaps the real problem is the term
> "preposition," which suggests that the word in question precedes its object.
> (If it follows its object, shouldn't it be called a *post*position?)

Well, it does precede its object, even if it is at the end of a sentence.
Here's an example:

I wish I knew which magazine her article appeared in.

OK, here we go with some Chomsky. In the surface structure (words on your
screen in this case), the object of the preposition "in" precedes the
preposition. However, when we read the sentence (and thus automatically
translate the surface structure to deep structure), we carry the meaning
conveyed by "magazine" and insert it into the semantic placeholder after
"in," thus reconciling semantics and syntax.

In some languages, such as Japanese, the object of the preposition does
indeed go before the preposition. The grammatical term is a postposition.
Usually, word-order languages with postpositions also have verbs before
subjects and nouns before adjectives and so on (called head-first).

BTW, is this off-topic?


Brad Connatser
Concurrent Communications
cwrites -at- usit -dot- net

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