rarity of preposition stranding

Frederick J Newmeyer fjn at u.washington.edu
Fri Oct 1 16:16:49 UTC 2010

Dear Funknetters,

Does anybody know of a functional explanation (published or not) for why preposition stranding is so rare in the languages of the world? (I am referring to constructions such as 'Who did you talk to?', 'Mary was talked to', etc.) As far as I know, it exists only in Germanic, marginally in French, and possibly in some Niger-Congo languages. There are a number of functionally-oriented accounts of P-stranding in English, but I wonder if anybody has taken on the question of its rarity crosslinguistically.



Frederick J. Newmeyer
Professor Emeritus, University of Washington
Adjunct Professor, University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University
[for my postal address, please contact me by e-mail]

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