[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

OT: Preposition at end [Was: Ha-Ha! [Was:Politics [Was:Social Contract]]]

> I copied this passage from the second link:
> "While descriptivists and other such laissez-faire linguists are content
> to allow the misconception to fall into the vernacular, it cannot be
> denied that logic and philosophy stand to lose an important conceptual
> label should the meaning of BTQ become diluted to the point that we must
> constantly distinguish between the traditional usage and the erroneous
> "modern" usage. This is why we fight."
> And I suppose that this is "something up with we shall not put!" :) :) 

I believe that was a quotation attributed to Winston Churchill after 
someone chided him for using a preposition at end.  I think the exact 
text was, "That is an objection up with which I shall not put." (please 
correct me if I'm wrong).

He was right to object.  Preposition at end is not forbidden by English 
grammar.  I quote Fowler, "Modern English Usage", from the article 
"Preposition at End":

"The fact is that the remarkable freedom enjoyed by English in putting 
its prepositions late & omitting its relatives is an important element 
in the flexibility of the language."

Thus Churchill was right, and if he weren't distorting the language to 
make a point, he could have said, "That is an objection I shall not put 
up with".

But Churchill's response is itself flawed.  In his rush to move the 
preposition from the end, he also moved an adverb.  A more appropriately 
distorted sentence would have been "That is an objection with which I 
shall not put up."

Treating the adverb as a preposition does makes his sentence more 
absurd, and therefore, more effective as rhetoric, although also more 
easily rebutted, should anyone attempt to use grammar to combat 

Fowler attributes the superstition of avoiding final prepositions to 
Latin scholars, who seem to reason that, if a construction is not 
admissible in Latin, it should not be admissible in English either.

-- hendrik

Reply to: