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This is a line I encountered in Sleeping Beauty, cried by the malevolent fairy when she found out she was not invited to the celebration of the new-born princess.

Question: What kind of grammatical role does 'of' play in the sentence? Can it be omitted without changing the meaning?

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I'm afraid this is General Reference, though it might have helped if you'd given a reference to where you came across this incorrect usage. The correct form is at not being invited, and no - the word at can't be omitted. –  FumbleFingers Jan 25 '13 at 1:33
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@jlovegren: But I notice you didn't post an actual link to the text. It seems to be in some kind of "multi-author" story that's been blindly copied thousands of times. The general calibre of which is somewhere below the average Facebook posting in terms of linguistic competence. It's a waste of time, not a "real question". –  FumbleFingers Jan 25 '13 at 3:47
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@jlovegren: What planet are you on? No-one (or at least, no halfway competent speaker of English) is ever distressed of something. If that was supposedly in a 1958 film, it was a typo that's survived because no-one has noticed and fixed it, not because it's a "nice line". Most films in 1958 didn't have subtitles anyway, so if it really is from that, it's probably down to a non-native speaker making a bad transcription decades later. –  FumbleFingers Jan 25 '13 at 4:15
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...anyway, here's the first subtitle file I found for Sleeping Beauty 1958, wherein you'll see it's correctly transcribed as distressed at not receiving. I don't have the movie itself, but we can be quite certain that's what will actually be said at that point. –  FumbleFingers Jan 25 '13 at 4:18
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@FumbleFingers see 9:00 on the video. i think you are right that she says at and not of. all the same, i'm disappointed at the reaction to this question; there are interesting grammatical issues. –  jlovegren Jan 25 '13 at 23:31
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1 Answer 1

"Of" does not belong there, if it is used it is substandard English. Instead, "about" can be substituted. Provided this is not a lyric and must fit the meter. Otherwise it is wrong.

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I also think you meant to say "role" in your question. Naturally, "of" is a preposition, and "about" would be an adverb. FF is correct dismissing it, because the sentence is a defective one. Regardless of the particle or the preposition one might substitute you don't end up fixing the sentence: you may celebrate the birth of a new princess, or 'have a celebration about the birth of a new princess', but as it is copied, it is a grammatically and semantically defective sentence. –  Adam Jan 25 '13 at 4:38
    
That's not quite my position. The sentence is perfectly normal English with the original preposition at, as per my link above, and it would be unremarkable (but somewhat less likely) with your suggested about. So I'll upvote your answer to counteract someone's misguided downvote, but I don't agree the implication of your comment that the sentence isn't completely "fixed" by using either of the prepositions which are valid for this context. –  FumbleFingers Jan 25 '13 at 18:39
    
About is a transitive preposition in distressed about it; the it is its object. The sogenannte "adverb" use of about is simply intransitive. –  John Lawler Jan 28 '13 at 17:18
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