2

For example the sentence

I will widen my perspective and approach to complex interdisciplinary research

should it be?

perspective of and approach to

If this is the correct way, is there a better construction that flows better? At least to me, reading "perspective of and" doesn't sound very good.

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  • 2
    Not that it really matters for this question, but shouldn't it be perspective on? – Peter Shor Aug 29 '17 at 15:09
  • @PeterShor I think they are comparable books.google.com/ngrams/… – Herman Toothrot Aug 29 '17 at 15:35
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    I think you will find if you look at GB's hits that with perspective of X X is usually the perceiver or the perceiver's standpoint, not the object perceived. – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 29 '17 at 15:41
  • does the same apply for "insights of/on"? – Herman Toothrot Aug 29 '17 at 16:11
  • @StoneyB: I think perspective of can be used for literal views, e.g. here and here. But I don't think it's often used for metaphorical ones. – Peter Shor Aug 29 '17 at 17:14
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Note, first, that we generally speak of a perspective on a subject, not of it.

There is no graceful way to deploy one noun phrase as object of two different prepositions heading complements of two different nouns, adjectives or verbs. There is a notoriously graceless way, which is the construction you suggest:

I will widen my perspective on and approach to complex interdisciplinary research.

This ugly construction infuriates writers and troubles linguists, because it conjoins non-constituent collocations. Nonetheless, it is universally accepted in academic and bureaucratic/legal dialects, so you need not hesitate to employ it.

The alternative is to rewrite. If you cannot find an alternative to one of your nouns which takes the same complement as the other, you may conjoin at a higher level:

I will widen my perspective on complex interdisciplinary research and my approach to it.


A POSSIBLY IMPERTINENT OBSERVATION:
If I might take a step back from the immediate question: My own experience is that awkward constructions like this usually betray some defect in my underlying metaphors. You should think about, for instance, what exactly you mean by widening your perspective and widening your approach. Is it possible that widen is just an approximation to what you really mean? —which might be something as remote from your first-order expression as this:

I will take a wider view of complex interdisciplinary research in order to find more productive approaches to the problem at hand.

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  • I'm not a big fan of your second option, because ending a sentence with "[noun] to it" is awkward at best. Agree that a full rewrite is preferable by far. – Carl Witthoft Aug 29 '17 at 15:49
  • For some reason I don't find "Urgently needed is a search for and discussion with Mark" nearly as graceless as you suggest. It could be a difference of language culture on different sides of the pond, but to my ear it sounds alright. – WS2 Aug 29 '17 at 16:11
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    @WS2 Translated into English that's "We really need to find Mark and talk to him". – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 29 '17 at 16:14
  • I like the suggestion to rewrite: it's much easier to parse, it's more elegant, and the message will (probably) be clearer. – Stefan Aug 29 '17 at 17:44
  • @StoneyB Perhaps that's the exception which proves the rule. In any event this has been discussed here before and no objections were raised to bifurcated prepositional phrases. – WS2 Aug 29 '17 at 19:31
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Either is acceptable. I would go with the first example as it is likely to be the usual format. The second format is more pedantic and you are probablly more likely to see it in academic writing in the humanities.

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  • Perhaps it’s because I’m someone who frequently writes academically within the humanities, but I find the first type very jarring and annoying every time I hear it (which, sadly, is quite often). The second one is perfectly natural to me and doesn’t strike me as being pedantic at all. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 29 '17 at 15:11
  • I don't find it acceptable to leave out unrepeated prepositions. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 29 '17 at 15:22
  • First example is absolutely unacceptable. – Carl Witthoft Aug 29 '17 at 15:49

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