anon, anent!
June 17, 2006 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Know any rare English prepositions?

I just learned a new preposition this week: anent, which means "concerning or regarding." I was floored -- it's not that uncommon to learn new nouns. New verbs seem a little more unusual, but they come up now and then. But a new preposition? I would have thought that I learned all of those a long time ago. Am I wrong?
posted by footnote to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
For what it's worth, I'd argue that anent is Scots, not English.

List of prepositions (includes abaft and midmost, which I didn't know)
posted by Leon at 11:23 AM on June 17, 2006


I would have thought that I learned all of those a long time ago. Am I wrong?

No, you're not wrong. You learned all of those that are commonly used in your particular variety of English.
posted by taschenrechner at 11:27 AM on June 17, 2006


You are right -- prepositions are a closed class, and nouns are an open class. This means that new prepositions are extremely uncommon, and there aren't many prepositions overall. (on preview: if the word "English" means every English dialect there is, the OP is wrong. But a much more reasonable assumption is that they meant their own dialect.)
posted by advil at 11:29 AM on June 17, 2006


Ahind, anunder, benorth, bewest, endlong, forout, overthwart, tofore. The reason you haven't heard of them is that they're even more obsolete than anent. But anent is pretty obsolete, which is why you hadn't heard of it. You like archaic words? I suggest reading Charles Doughty, who's full of 'em. Plus, Travels in Arabia Deserta is a wonderful description of wandering with the Bedouin in the 1870s.
posted by languagehat at 11:32 AM on June 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


I suggest reading Charles Doughty, who's full of 'em.

I forgot to mention where I read "anent" -- an opinion written by judge Selya, who's famous/infamous for his vocabulary.
posted by footnote at 11:44 AM on June 17, 2006


For what it's worth, I'd argue that anent is Scots, not English.

Outwith is another one which is in current usage.
posted by booksprite at 1:54 PM on June 17, 2006


'anent' was a favourite of that stylist, Saki
posted by londongeezer at 2:04 PM on June 17, 2006


What is the current thinking on "up to" and "down to"?

"Sally counted up to 100." or "We traveled down to Florida."

Are these directions part of the verb or is this an emerging preposition?
posted by ontic at 3:11 PM on June 17, 2006


*struggles to remember grammar*
Isn't 'up' an adverb, describing the counting?
ie; Sally counted. How did she count? Up. How far did she count? To 100. They seem like separate phrases. You could deconstruct the Florida one similarly.
posted by jacalata at 8:45 PM on June 17, 2006


About, above, across, after, against, along, among, around... in 8th grade my teacher made us memorize all the prepositions.

Jacalata, adverbs describe verbs or adjectives (or other adverbs). Adjectives describe nouns. The way up and down are used above sound more like prepositions.

Sally walked around the house - where did she walk? around the house. Around is the preposition, around the house is the prepositional phrase.

Adjective: Look at that brown fox.
Adverb: Look at the light brown fox. (Brown is still an adjective in this sentence.)
Adverb: The fox runs quickly.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:17 PM on June 17, 2006


Thanks for the flashback to grammar school, IndigoRain, though it's not quite relevant to what jacalata is asking.

Up and down are adverbs, yes. Ontic, they aren't part of the verb or of the emerging preposition, but are the heads of their own adverbial phrases.

The tree goes like this:

We [drove [down [to Florida.] PP ] AdvP ] VP

The prepositional phrase begins with the word to and the adverbial phrase with down.
posted by pealco at 12:17 AM on June 18, 2006


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