Sunday, February 12, 2012

A little quibbling about Lexicon Valley

On the premiere episode of the new Lexicon Valley podcast they took on the question of the origin of the prescriptive rule against ending a sentence with a preposition. The host opened the proceedings with the question "Where is this discussion going to lead us to?"—intentionally breaking the rule. His co-host then tried to ignore it, but the host took it upon himself to point out the joke.

The co-host noted he was ignoring it and moved on.

The host seemed to fail to recognize that his quip fell flat (in no small measure) because there was no need for any preposition in that question; "Where is this discussion going to lead us?" proves fully sufficient in completing a sentence.

If he wished to come up with a better (ostensible) example he could review the sentence two paragraphs up.

Ah, the difficulties of talking about language/linguistics/rhetoric, etc.: The sticklers will never let anything slip through unnoticed or uncriticized. But I merely mention it in a post.


Ultimately it boiled down to a 17th century poet John Dryden (or at least so they concluded), by the way.

The episode didn't explain how the rule caught on with English linguists nor how it remained in effect even to this day, but I suppose that may be unanswerable, or certainly probably not that interesting to listen to.

I will keep listening, to see how the series develops. Eh, it's free.


  1. Replies
    1. Actually I only had a little while when I wasn't working from home...


So, what do you think?