rarity of preposition stranding

Matthew S. Dryer dryer at buffalo.edu
Fri Oct 1 23:42:55 UTC 2010

Not so fast, Tom.  It is certainly true in principle that one can often better
understand why a rare phenomenon is rare by getting a better understanding of
more common related phenomenon.  But I see nothing in your two emails that sheds
any light on why the English-type of adposition stranding is so rare or how any
of the literature on the related phenomena you discuss sheds any light on this
question.  Unless you can do that, I see no reason why it would be worth Fritz
looking at these related phenomena, to help answer his question.


On Fri 10/01/10  5:40 PM , Tom Givon tgivon at uoregon.edu sent:
> Copy of note to Fritz:
> From where I sit, it is all connected, both synchronically (similar 
> pattern) and diachronically (patterns mutating into other patterns). 
> There are grammatical constructions that act as context for the original
> 'stranding'; then you have various next-steps, eventually to (in some 
> cases) full lexicalization (as in Latin or Germanic). So in Rama, the 
> exact same configuration as in IE exists, but it is a much earlier 
> stage, so I can see the early 'trapping' process a bit more clearly. In
> Latin & Old Gothic it's already too advanced, hard to see the 
> variational steps any longer, it is largely  already lexicalized. In 
> Rama you can see just the beginning of lexicalization, a few compound
> verbs.
> In Klamath or Numic you can see much more, a host of it, tho you can 
> still see the nominal or verbal etymology of the ad-positions. In Latin
> they LOOK like they should be de-verbal, as in Rama, but the etymology 
> is not quite as clean, too much time has pass. So you still have the 
> verb 'ex-it' on 'en-ter', but it's harder to find the verb 'con' or 
> 'sur' or 'per'; tho in Spanish 'sub-ir' is still a verb meaning 'go 
> down/under'.
> But In Bantu the grammatical process is much more advanced that in Rama,
> it gotten into  REL clsauses, passives, and other derivatives from them.
> And there's a considerable amount of lexicalization, mostly in 
> set-phrases (typical early stage) such as 'excuse me', 'thank you' 'how
> are you' & more. In all these cases, you can see the role of 
> zero-arguments right there (missing AGT-of-passive, zero coreferent 
> inside the REL-clause. My las supervised African dissertation, a grammar
> of Lunda (Boniface Kawasha, ca. 2002, U. Oregon) has tons of that in 
> REL-clauses, it is like the promotion-to-DO in Rwanda (Kimenyi 1976), 
> but only in REL clauses, not main clauses. I flashed on this when I did
> my dissertation on Bemba (1969). Then, my supervisor, Paul Schachter, 
> said "you've got too much in it already, I don't want to read a whole
> grammar". So eventually I dumped two boxes of data. Sic transit.
> You gotta open up your classification schemata just a little bit, Fritz.
> Otherwise you'll keep missing the real goodies, where the explanations 
> of typological differences lie--usually in plain site.  TG
> ======================
> Angus B. Grieve-Smith wrote:
> > 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?
> >
> >   

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