Embarrassingly Enough, ...

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Fri May 4 14:14:45 UTC 2007

On May 3, 2007, at 9:58 PM, James Stalker wrote:

> "Of" is becoming the default preposition.  I've been watching it
> for years,
> creeping in and devouring other prepositions...

well, "of" *is* the default preposition; it's the one you get when
you need a preposition and no other is called for.  in "derived
nominals", for example, if the base selects a preposition, then that
preposition appears with the derived nominal -- Kim adheres to strict
principles / Kim's adherence to strict principles, Kim is attracted
to loony ideas / Kim's attraction to loony ideas -- but if the base
is an ordinary transitive verb, then the derived nominal takes "of"
-- Kim destroyed the glassware / Kim's destruction of the glassware.
the derived nominal needs a preposition to mark its object, and if
the base doesn't select one, you use "of".

people tend to extend defaults to new cases.  this is a kind of
simplification -- eliminating lexical peculiarities.  so "of" is
always there to fill in when you need a preposition (for example,
when you're expressing the complement of an adjective or noun).


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