The Miguel Cotto v Manny Pacquiao fight this weekend wouldn’t have attracted much attention from TEFLers, linguists or other language orientated professionals. I watched it because I like boxing. But I did notice, during the interview with Cotto after his 11 and a bit rounds of punishment, the use of some pretty old fashioned English…
“I didn’t know from where the punches were coming,” Cotto said.
Which is slightly different from the ‘normal’ way of saying the sentence – “I didn’t know where the punches were coming from.” There’s an old rule in English declaring that it is incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition. Actually I’ve often wondered whether it ever really was a rule, or just a myth. So I researched. Apparently the ‘rule’ is linked to grammatical structure in Latin, which was considered grammatically perfect. If it was good enough for Latin, it was good enough for English. Except it’s not always natural to use the preposition in the same way in English. Whether that’s always been the case, or whether the evolution of English (and perhaps phrasal verbs) has made it so, I do not know. Although quite often the flexibility of the usage of the Relative Clause does make it perfectly possible.
Winston Churchill once famously responded to a prepositional correction of his notes “This is the type of errant pedantry up with which I will not put.” His literal interpretation is quite amusing, but not as amusing as another I found – A Southerner stopped a stranger on the Harvard campus and asked, “Could you please tell me where the library is at?” The stranger responded, “Educated people never end their sentences with a preposition.” The overly polite Southerner then apologetically repeated himself: “Could you please tell me where the library is at, you jerk?”