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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

Syntax—The Traffic Rules of Language   143
We have stall to dear up one difficulty before our troubles with the
partades are over It will be easier to understand what it isa if we first
compare the sentences below.
(a) He read after dinner           (c) he read after he dined
(&) He read during dinner        (d) he read while he dined
In the first pair, the word after has the same meaning whether used
as a directive before a noun or as a link-word connecting the statement
he read with the statement he dined. Though it would be just as true to
say that dunng has the same meaning as while in the second pair, it
would not be 111 keeping with the customs of English to interchange
them Each has its appropriate context in English, though the German
can use the same word in both situations So in classifying one as a
directive and the other as a conjunction, the distinction refers only to the
situations in which it is appropriate to use them English is relatively
thrifty m its use of particles,, because it has relatively few which are
restricted in this way For instance, we can use all the interrogative
partides (how, when, where, and why) as link-words. We can also use all
the directives either as prepositions in front of a noun, or as adverbial
partides standing alone. Some English adverbial particles (such as soon,
back, forward, here, very) never stand in front of a noun, but no English
words are pure prepositions, i.e. cannot stand alone without a noun. In
some languages the distinction between the two classes is much sharper
In German we cannot use the same partide to translate going below
(adverb) and going below the surface (preposition). We have to be equally
careful about foreign equivalents of words which can be directives or
conjunctions. In Swedish, we have to use var for where when we ask
WHERE do you live*, and dear for where when we say he died WHERE
he was born
When context demands one of two or more equivalents, a good
dictionary therefore prints such abbreviations as. conj, prep, adv,
interr* In making a basic word-list it is a good plan to list the same
English word in each of these classes to which it may belong, in case it
may require different foreign equivalents It is also useful to pay
attention to the fact that some of our common English adverbial
particles are BAD ones in the sense that some of our common conjunc-
tions, e g as are bad ones. For instance, we use the English word
quite to signify somewhat (e g quite pleasant), or completely (quite full),
and rather to signify somewhat (rather enjoyable), or preferably (he
would rather) An essential word-list for self-expression would include