(Sara R. Johnson): Re: semantic domain of prepositions

From: Lynn A Kauppi (
Date: Mon May 05 1997 - 00:00:28 EDT

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From: (Sara R. Johnson)
To: Lynn A Kauppi <>
Subject: Re: semantic domain of prepositions
Date: Sun, 4 May 1997 20:24:04 -0400
Message-ID: <v02130501af929a185528@[]>

>I wonder if the "redundant" use of prepositions following a verb with a
>prefixed preposition not only reflects a development in Hellensitic
>but also a general trend in languages. A parallel construction occurs in
>classical Hebrew where a pronominal suffix is attached to a verb
>indicating the direct object referring to a noun in the sentence which
>syntactically the direct object. Dative second person pronominal
>attached to the preposition l(e) follow the imperative. Again seemingly
>"redundant" constructions.
>Speakers and writers of modern English seem to instinctively repeat
>themselves. The worst examples are bureaucratic and legal writing. We
>consistently taught to avoid redundancy and to be concise, yet almost
>instictively we pile up redundancies in our speaking and writing.
>Is it that concision and elegance are the exception rather than the
>Somewhere I was taught that redundancy insures the success of
>communication. If part of a message is lost, redundancy insures that
>information is still communicated.

I can't point to the relevant scholarly literature, but I was under the
impression that the "redundant" use of prepositions was characteristic of
Classical Greek pretty much from the point at which prepositions were
prefixed to verbs (post-Homer onward). Far from being considered
inelegant, as we would think, it was considered (I believe) correct and
elegant style to repeat the preposition twice. So with also the internal
accusative, it was considered elegant to use an object from the same
word-stem as the verb (to strike a blow, speak a speech, etc.).

Glad to be corrected if I'm generalizing inaccurately --


Sara R. Johnson
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Religion and Classics
University of Rochester

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