Friday, August 14, 2009

Even more departicipial prepositions

This thread has been picked up on Language Log where thousands more eyes will see it than are likely here, leading to many interesting comments. These have pushed me to look for other "departicipial prepositions". Here are the candidate's I've found so far.
  1. It is the result of a colonial heritage that has permanently saddled a fundamentally Mestizo-Indian society with standards of appearance, beauty, and behavior that are not its own. Counteracting this frame of mind today, there is a significant intellectual and popular movement declaring the Mestizo-Indian phenotype as the country's proper imago mundi in opposition to the " white is beautiful " colonial mentality (Llanas Alvarez 1978). It is difficult to forecast the fate of this effort. (Nutini, Hugo G.)
  2. Mexican labor force earned most, or a substantial part, of its livelihood in cash, and would therefore have seen its economic position perceptibly eroded in the late colonial decades. Compounding this secular trend there occurred a series of harvest failures and sharp price rises in articles of basic popular consumption after 1800, producing the same effects -- popular immiseration, unemployment, business collapse, cityward migrations, and so forth -- characteristic of most ancien regime economies in the grip of crises de subsistences. (Van Young, Eric)
  3. It is obvious that if the galaxies are moving apart, they must have been closer together in the past. Extrapolating this trend, it seems that there must have been a time when all the matter in the universe was compressed together. Knowing the rate of expansion, we can estimate when this dense phase was. (Davies, Paul)
  4. Curiously, it is possible for the universe to be finite in extent, and yet still have no center or edge. Leaving that possibility aside for now, there is a sense in which the speculation about a very distant edge to the universe is pointless if not meaningless. (Davies, Paul)
  5. Each choice of the timeful " I " generates more of the person's destiny, his karma; the overall process in which the human person is situated requires the human selfs previous existences, its reincarnations, and the gradual development of its physical, then etheric, and still later astral bodies. Paralleling these bodily developments, there arise the sentient soul, then the intellectual soul, and currently the consciousness soul. (Oppenheim, Frank M.)
  6. This is an important strand of political analysis, hostile to class conflict yet also acutely aware of the limits of contemporary capitalism, especially when it comes to redistribution of income or provision of rudimentary socio-economic opportunities. Looking more closely at Gelb's analysis, there is a poignant honesty to be found, beyond the normative stance that defends status quo corporatist politics. (Bond, Patrick)
  7. Only later did more enterprising reporters discover that Disney had been offered access to federal lands for resorts, and Billy Graham, a mild precursor of today's religious extremists, had been wooed with conservative positions on social issues and the promise of a direct line to the White House. Underlying both the stump speech and the private promises, there wa one message: the difference between Nixon and his opponent, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, was wide, deep, and crucial. (Steinem, Gloria)
  8. Therefore, while there is evidence of all seven tensions at play in the lives of participants, we understand resilience to be the contextually dependent optimal resolution of the tensions as they are experienced across cultures and contexts. Viewed this way, there is no objective criteria for evaluating positive outcomes since it is up to the individual (influenced, of course, by culture and context) to appraise whether his or her life at that point in time is successful. (Ungar, Michael)
So, do any of these strike you as danglers? Do you buy them as prepositions, or do you have some other explanation?


Tom Saylor said...

I perceive dangling participles in 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 but not in 1, 2, or 7, where the implied subject of the participial clause is identical to the notional subject of the existential construction that follows: In 1, it's the significant intellectual and popular movement that's doing the counteracting; in 2, it's the series of harvest failures and sharp price rises that are doing the compounding; and in 7, it's the one message that's doing the underlying.

I don't see why you're focusing exclusively on participials that dangle before existential constructions. Most of these sorts of "prepositional" participles commonly precede clauses with ordinary structures, e.g.:

Judging by Martin's reaction, the meeting did not go well.

Based on anecdotal evidence, the herb is effective in treating insomnia.

Brett said...


Those before existential constructions are the easiest to search for in the corpora. That's all.

Ran said...

Numbers 3, 4, and 6 "differ from the prepositional construction in that there is still an understood subject roughly recoverable from the context as the speaker or the speaker and addressees together." (That's quoting from the last CGEL sentence at

Number 8 is different from the others, in that "this way" is an adverbial adjunct (or maybe adverbial complement), not a nominal complement. (Cf. "Viewed in this way, […]", "Viewed from this standpoint, […]", etc.; and conversely, "I did it this way.") I'm not saying that means it isn't a preposition, just that I think you need to re-argue the case a bit.

… and here I thought prepositions were a closed word class.