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Re: those irregular prepositions

From:Yahya Abdal-Aziz <yahya@...>
Date:Thursday, June 22, 2006, 6:23
Hi Tim,

On Thu, 22 Jun 2006, Tim May wrote:
> > Yahya Abdal-Aziz wrote at 2006-06-21 00:06:21 (+1000) > > Hi, > > > > In English, we say: > > * at night > > * at nightfall > > * at nighttime > > * at dusk > > * at dawn > > * at noon > > * at the weekend > > * at daybreak > > but > > * in the daytime > > * during the day > > never > > * at day > > * at daytime > > > > Why is it so? > > > > Do you conlangs have any prepositions of > > similarly quirky distribution? > > > > > Well, surely the basic pattern is to use "at" for times conceived of > as events, i.e. punctual, specific times, and "in" or "during" for > extended periods. Of your examples only "at night" "at nighttime" and > "at the weekend" depart from this pattern*. Of these, "at nighttime" > strikes me as highly questionable, at least regarding my own speech.
Hmmm. I hadn't thought of that distinction. But for me, being a temperate person (by birth, if not by nature), only "noon" is likely to be a punctual time (though "noontide" wouldn't), and all the others are durative. Whilst I lived in the tropics, tho, I came to appreciate that "nightfall" and "daybreak" could be quite as sharp and sudden as the incorporated verbs imply ...
> Mark and Tristan have a similar reaction to "at the weekend" (which I > find unobjectionable, though I think I'd be more likely to use one of > the alternatives).
I use "at" or "on" in free variation to prefix "the weekend". I wasn't aware others didn't. But I only ever use "during" to prefix "the week" or "the work-week", where these are generic parts of the seven-day cycle; however, if I'm talking about a specific week, it's "in", eg "in the last week of the year".
> (Incidentally, when you give a list of both correct and incorrect > examples, it's probably better not to bullet-point them with > asterisks, given the linguistic convention of using a prefixed > asterisk to indicate unacceptable or reconstructed forms (e.g. _*at > daytime_).)
I did wonder about that. You might have noticed that I didn't write *<text>, but left a space: * <text>. My only other bullet-point convention for plain text involves using lowercase "o", thus: o list-item-1 o list-item-2 o list-item-3 ... I wasn't sure which would be more readable for most listmembers.
> * Admittedly, my assessment of whether words like "dusk" are > semantically punctual may be influenced by the prepositions they > take, so perhaps there's an element of circular reasoning here.
;-) Regards, Yahya -- No virus found in this outgoing message. Checked by AVG Free Edition. Version: 7.1.394 / Virus Database: 268.9.2/372 - Release Date: 21/6/06


Eugene Oh <un.doing@...>