Compound preposition

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A compound preposition — a “prepositional phase”, for those with a yen to the adjectival — does the same job as a plain old preposition, only more tediously. Therefore it is beloved of our old friend the mediocre attorney.

We know that our legal brethren delight in perverting the ordinary use of words: nominalising verbs into nouns, and so on, and the compound preposition is a neat way of co-opting nouns, conjunctions — all kinds — into the servile business of putting one noun in relation to another.

Why, for example, would rights be exercised “under” a contractby” a party when they could be “subject to execution”[1]on the part of” that party “in accordance with” the contract?

Loose prepositional phrases

Careful, by the way, about being too trigger-happy about loose prepositional phrases like this. There is a howler in the definition of income in the 2010 GMSLA:

Income means any interest, dividends or other distributions of any kind whatsoever with respect to any Securities or Collateral;

Here, it should say “...distributions of any kind whatsoever[2] paid under the Securities or Collateral.”

Distributions paid with respect to the Securities could include amounts paid by unreleted third parties that reference the Securities: you know, like derivative payments. Payments on credit events, where the underlier has blown up. Payments that could be levered, or modified, but nonetheless paid by reference to the shares themselves. So that would be bad. Borrowers of stock loans have no intention to manufacture these kinds of payments.

See also


  1. Strictly speaking, this is a nominalisation, not a compound preposition, of course.
  2. Actually, in the JC’s view this is also unintentionally wide and really ought to be “...or other similar distributions”. See Income for more tedious discussion on this fascinating topic.