A blog about any and all things linguistic. Topics can range from phonetics to syntax to aspects of specific languages. Updated weekly.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
out of proportion to
I was reading something recently and the expression "out of proportion to" caught my eye. Somehow the preposition "to" seemed odd, but at the time I couldn't figure out what I would rather use. Since then I've decided that I probably use "out of proportion with", though I'm much more likely to rephrase the entire sentence so that I can use "disproportionate(ly)". So I thought I'd do a little searching and see which is more common. Sure enough, the "to" version is significantly more common, with 8.7M ghits versus only 1.5M for "with". Those seem to be the only prepositions possible, both from my own intuitions and looking around on the interwebs. COCA gets 161 hits for "to" versus a mere 21 for "with". I did turn up one more preposition that I hadn't thought of, and didn't find from random google searches: "out of proportion from". COCA gives two hits ("Pain out of proportion from injury" and "privileges and a scale of living that were not only far out of proportion from what we had experienced back in the United States"), and google gives ~95k hits, only about 30% of which seem to be genuine "out of proportion P" constructions, so this usage seems to be rather rare. Not sure why I felt "to" was odd, and honestly I'm not even sure that if I used the construction I wouldn't use "to", but I find this sort of variation in prepositional choices interesting.
I live in New Brunswick, NJ with my wife Amanda, and am currently a 3rd year linguistics Ph.D. student at Rutgers. My research interests include phonetics, phonology, Optimality Theory, Native American languages (esp. Na-Dene and Algonquian), loanword adaptation, and syllable structure. Send comments/suggestions/questions to:
rdenzerk at eden.rutgers.edu