Re: those irregular prepositions
|From:||Yahya Abdal-Aziz <yahya@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, June 22, 2006, 6:23|
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
> 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
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:
I wasn't sure which would be more readable for
> * 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.
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