rarity of preposition stranding

Angus B. Grieve-Smith grvsmth at panix.com
Fri Oct 1 21:04:16 UTC 2010

On Fri, October 1, 2010 12:16 pm, Frederick J Newmeyer wrote:
> 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.

In order to have preposition stranding, you need prepositions, right?  So
the only way we can answer the question of how rare languages with
preposition stranding are is by getting a rough sense of the proportion of
languages with prepositions they represent.  Mr. Givon mentioned a bunch
of languages with them, but is there a comprehensive list in some typology
text somewhere?

I also wanted a clarification from Mr. Newmeyer: your category of
preposition stranding includes (1) but not (2), right?

1) Who are you going with?
2) Are you coming with?

			-Angus B. Grieve-Smith
                        Saint John's University
			grvsmth at panix.com

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