German MIT first summary

David Gil gil at EVA.MPG.DE
Thu Dec 17 20:41:57 UTC 2009

For some first data outside Europe (albeit barely so):  Hebrew also has 
the construction in question, with the preposition (or proclitic) b-, 
whose range of functions include both locative "in" and instrumental 
(though not comitative) "with".

My gut feeling (though this is something that should and probably could 
be tested) is that this is a relatively recent calquing on some European 

A more general gut feeling that I also have is that this construction is 
limited, in the languages that have it, to a rather formal register, and 
that various stylistic conventions and specific constructions associated 
with such registers may spread across languages faster and further than 
other conventions and constructions that are limited to more colloquial 

For example, I'm pretty certain that most colloquial varieties of Malay 
and Indonesian have nothing like this; however, I wouldn't be surprised 
to encounter such a construction in more formal Malay or Indonesian, 
which are heavily influenced by European languages.  (So far I have not, 
but that may be due to the fact that I am much less exposed to the 
formal varieties of these languages.)

David Gil

Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

Telephone: 49-341-3550321 Fax: 49-341-3550119
Email: gil at

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