[Ads-l] Punchline: A thing up with which I will not put (July 31, 1941)
mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Tue May 19 00:37:28 UTC 2020
Here are citations that may predate this joke.
Thomas Arthur Rickard wrote in “A Guide To Technical Writing” (https://tinyurl.com/ybf6jb4u <https://tinyurl.com/ybf6jb4u>, p 65) that preposition verbs (prepositional verbs; phrasal verbs taking a preposition) are weak. In July 1910, he wrote an article in which he cites an anonymous witticism that may be an early version of the titled punchline.
1. “Standardization of English” in Mines and Minerals, vol 30, p 766
T A Rickard
A humorist once stated the rule thus: “Never use a preposition to end _up_ a sentence _with_.
2. “Standardization of Technical English” in Mining Science, p 179
W H Shockley
25 Aug 1910
On p. 8, Mr. Rickard implies that ending a sentence with a preposition, or an insignificant word, is a grave fault, and gives the humorous rule : " Never use a preposition to end _up_ a sentence _with_.”
The citation is for “Mining Science”, 7 Jul 1910, p. 7, but Rickard does not say that anywhere in the article (https://tinyurl.com/yap2nvjz <https://tinyurl.com/yap2nvjz>); instead, it seems that 1 above is the intended citation.
3. A Mirror of English - Page 30
Bernard Lionel Kinghorn Henderson
It is astonishing to notice how people cling to the idea that they must not end a sentence with a preposition , or , as the schoolmaster is supposed to have said : “ A preposition is a bad word to end a sentence with . ”
4. Transactions of the Institution of Mining & Metallurgy, p. 576 (according to Google Books search)
Metallurgy, vol 19 (according to the citation page)
This predates 1 but it is a snippet view. Also, it is the same as citation 2, except that the page number is changed from “8” to “545”.
On p. 545, Mr. Rickard implies that ending a sentence with a preposition, or an insignificant word, is a grave fault, and gives the humorous rule : " Never use a preposition to end _up_ a sentence _with_.”
On 7 Mar 2019, GOT asked about a joke where someone asks a question ending with a preposition, the interlocutor says you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition, and the questioner repeats the question with the vocative “asshole” or the like added to the end (http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2019-March/154304.html <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2019-March/154304.html>). It seems plausible that this is related to the titled punchline.
In some of the responses to Rickard’s original article in citation 1, there is concern about his use of the expression “preposition verb”, and he defends it as nobody suggests a better expression. Perhaps he coined that expression. The OED has 1908 for “prepositional verb” but nothing for “preposition verb” (http://www.englishtown.com/EtownResources/Grammar/25.html <http://www.englishtown.com/EtownResources/Grammar/25.html>).
As an aside, Rickard’s grandson has a blog post about him: https://tinyurl.com/y9cmnooe <https://tinyurl.com/y9cmnooe>.
Benjamin Barrett (he/his/him)
Formerly of Seattle, WA
> On 18 May 2020, at 13:49, ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> The Quote Investigator website has an article about a famous Churchill
> anecdote concerning the placement of prepositions.
> This Is the Sort of Nonsense Up With Which I Will Not Put
> A kind correspondent named Braddon Upex recently told me about a new
> earlier citation for the joke which he had located.
> [ref] 1941 July 31, The West Sussex Gazette, Our Comment and Gossip:
> Things in General, Quote Page 4, Column 2, Sussex, England. (British
> Newspaper Archive) [/ref]
> [Begin excerpt]
> The story is told of an English master from a high school who was
> called up, received a commission, and found himself in official
> correspondence over military matters with a superior officer. The
> superior, who was something of a martinet, precise in matters of
> composition, "ticked off" his junior for ending a sentence with a
> preposition. Whereupon the junior, in his reply, while acknowledging
> himself the obedient servant of his superior in matters affecting his
> military duties, declined to take orders from him in respect of his
> use of the English language. This, he announced, was "a thing up with
> which I will not put". Perhaps he has learnt otherwise since!
> [End excerpt]
> I've updated the QI article, but it may take a few hours before the
> updated version propagates through the distributed delivery system.
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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