OT: Preposition at end [Was: Ha-Ha! [Was:Politics [Was:Social Contract]]]
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subject: OT: Preposition at end [Was: Ha-Ha! [Was:Politics [Was:Social Contract]]]
- From: email@example.com
- Date: Mon, 1 May 2006 06:36:47 -0400
- Message-id: <[🔎] 20060501103647.GA22660@topoi.pooq.com>
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- References: <20060430023153.GB24021@witts-end.cavein.org> <email@example.com> <44544E91.firstname.lastname@example.org> <44545F1B.email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <4454BA95.email@example.com> <4454BB18.firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com> <4454D601.firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com>
> 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
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.