Mmm–tasty child labor!

Our first entry in the “Prepositional weirdness” category (also known as “It’s only a preposition; how important can it be?”) comes from Salon.com. Thanks go out again to Scott Douglas for sending this.

Tasty child labor!

How important can a preposition be? Well–it can make the difference between a headline no one would look askance at for grammatical reasons, like “Chocolate produced by child labor, says new report,” and one like Salon’s, which stopped our contributor and at least me for a long moment. “Chocolate produced from child labor”? I suppose if I were to think about it long enough I might be able to come up with a reason for using “from” instead of “by” that didn’t have anything to do with a) sheer laziness or b) poor usage, period.

I don’t feel like thinking that long, though.

3 thoughts on “Mmm–tasty child labor!

  1. As far as prepositions go, I have a question about “purpose.” I’ve been in a long-standing debate with a friend about whether or not things are “on purpose” or “with purpose.” I argue that the two are distinctly different. “On purpose” denotes intention. “With purpose” describes the manner in which something was done. She says that “on purpose” is just plain wrong. What say the Grammargeddon Clerics?

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    1. I say that the two phrases are different. While I can’t quote chapter and verse directly, I can get there by talking about “purposefully” and “purposely.” In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage (1989), we can find this:

      “. . . ‘(P)urposely’ is the simpler word, meaning merely ‘on purpose, not by accident,’ while ‘purposefully’ is intended to suggest that the persons written about did what they did for a purpose, perhaps even with determination.”

      If “on purpose” is acceptable by M-W standards as shown in the above excerpt, where it’s used to explain “purposely,” who am I to argue? (Especially when I already felt that way, before looking this up . . .)

      Good luck with the long-standing debate. 🙂

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