Thursday, March 15, 2007

Do you know what a preposition is?

If so, then you might wonder what would happen if you tried to publish a paper with a glaring grammatical mistake in its title! Sure, we all make mistakes, but what are the chances a title would make it past all the authors, any referees, and, of course, the editors!

Just to be clear, "off" is a preposition as in "off a brane." It takes an object. The word "of" is also a preposition. The combination "off of a tense brane" is....not English? abomination?

Two preemptive arguments. (1) Yes, I make grammatical mistakes. I would guess that I have made none in any of my published titles (and probably all my unpublished ones as well). (2) There will be those who say "Oh, it's common usage just like 'for free' is technically wrong but is now accepted." To this I say that 'for free' is, at the least, a single instance of a mistake. To accept double prepositions as a rule, however, is a different matter entirely. Are we going to accept things like "I got on in the bus"?

And to be clear, I'm not just faulting the authors here. But, do you notice that one of the authors is from Oxford!


CarlBrannen said...

Oxford can only accept so many students to their English program. Who knows where the rejects end up.

Anonymous said...

Those who condemn academic diversity are unqualified to judge. Every advantage must be delivered to the unqualified.

Language be dynamical communicashun. De only sins iz pedantic what ho downon defined meanin's, "co'rect" spellin's, an' grammas. Enfo'ced standards iz hate language, ya know? Imagining dat bright, bright future when ballots iz cast widout pesterin' de electo'ate.

Anonymous said...

Well, I am not an English native, but to me "off of x" sounds familiar, because it is exactly how an italian would translate things such as "fuori da x", since "fuori" means "outside", "off", and "da" is "of", "from".

That reminds me G.Marx's Say "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read"...