[Ads-l] A way to avoid sentence-final prepositions

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Thu Aug 2 09:44:12 EDT 2018

> On Aug 1, 2018, at 2:29 PM, Chris Waigl <chris at LASCRIBE.NET> wrote:
> Well, one way: just delete it. Not a good one.
> ====
> Wall testified that House of Bijan was an exclusive retailer: its clothing
> is only sold in its store and the items are made in Italy by less than two
> dozen companies the retailer has built a relationship.
> https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2018/08/01/paul-manafort-trial-day-two/?utm_term=.28571ba25119&wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1
> ====

Jon Lighter in response:

I've been noticing this in speech for at least two or three years, though
the ex. given is especially awful.

Is it actual "avoidance"? Or the inability to construct that kind of

an instance of what i called "P-absorption" in discussions on ths list (and in Language Log and on my blog) back around 2009.  examples (often from skilled writers) go back over a hundred years, and probably before that if anyone will take the trouble to look. 

(what's involved is the omission of a stranded P (that's _stranded_ vs. _fronted_), so the phenomenon can go back only as far as the rise of stranded Ps.)

from my notes:

It looks like several different things are going on here: #1 (with final "in" probably omitted because of the earlier "in" – preposition cannibalism [the term is, I think, Fowler's]) and #2 (with final "to" perhaps omitted because it’s selected by the verb) are different types.  Still others might be motivated by avoidance of stranded Ps.  Still others might arise from a speaker or writer losing track of the fact that they did not use a fronted P (the result is then a kind of combo of the two constructions; i.e., #15 might be seen as a combo of "for which we hope to get them the money" and "that we hope to get them the money for").  And of course some Ps are omissible in adverbial relatives ["We left (on) Monday", hence "the day we left (on)"]; these are not collected here.

1.  ...who’s going in a direction that we feel the field is going [in].
  (Laura Staum, Linguistics department meeting, 3/15/04)

2.  ...9/11, when groupthink became the official substitute for patriotism, and we began running out of surfaces for affixing American flags [to].
  (Barbara Ehrenreich, “All Together Now”, NYT op-ed piece, 7/15/04, p. A23)

15. ... and other important things that we hope to get them the money [for].
  (Rep. Barney Frank on NPR’s Saturday Morning Edition, 1/19/08)


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