Skip to main content

Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

See other formats

Syntax—The Traffic Rules of Language   135

tion of movement. We may also use a partide in situations where it
does not have its characteristic meaning. In such situations we may not
be able to detect any common thread of meaning. Thus the directive
significance of to does not help us to see why we put it in the expression
with reference to. It does not tell us why we must insert it in allow me to
do this, or why we omit it in let me do this Since particles of all languages
close to our own have idiomatic uses of this sort, dictionaries usually
give us the choice of a large number of foreign equivalents for one and
the same particle We can say that a particle of one language corre-
sponds to a single particle in another language only when we are
speaking of its characteristic meaning, or its use in some particular

Examples given below illustrate pitfalls into which we can fall when
using particles The first four give the German, Swedish, and English
expressions equivalent to four French phrases containing the same
particle, & The last four give French, German, and Swedish equivalents
for four English expressions all of which begin with in The French
a of these expressions requires four different German, and three
different English or Swedish particles. The English in of the other
set requires four diflfeient French or German, and three different
Swedish particles.


a pied d Berlin d la c6te d mes frais
	zu Fuss nach Berlin £n der Kuste auf meine Kosten
	tillfots till Berlin vid kusten pi. min rakmng
	on foot to Berlin at the coast at my expense

dans la rue en hiver le soir de bonne heure
	auf der Strasse im Winter am Abend zu rechter Zeit
	p£ gatan om vintern pa kvallen i god lid
	in the street in winter in the evening in good tune

Just as the krgest party in Parliament need not be a party with a
clear majority, the characteristic meaning of a particle need not be the
meaning common to the majority of situations in which we have to use
it It may happen that we can recognize^ more than one large class of
situations in which a particle has a distinctive significance For instance,
the directive with turns up commonly in two senses It has an instru-
mental use for which we can substitute the roundabout expression by