The ‘Glaring’ Place of Prepositions
Grammar, Rhetoric and the Scottish Codifiers
This paper offers new insights into the 18th-century normative tradition, with special reference to the stigmatisation of preposition stranding. It brings to light the role of Scottish codifiers in contrast to English codifiers: works written by Scots contain more critical comments on the use of end-placed prepositions both quantitatively (in terms of frequency) and qualitatively (more semantic nuances and more condemnatory epithets). The semantic analysis of the data rules out the hypothesis that Scottish authors might have been particularly sensible towards this construction because of its nature as ‘provincial English’ or as a ‘Scotticism’. Rather, the author suggests that it was the ‘New Rhetoric’ movement (1748–1793) in the context of the Scottish Enlightenment that played a vital role in its stigmatisation. The importance of rhetoric as a facet of 18th-century prescriptivism, complementary to grammar, is thus put under the spotlight.