Why do you say “to step down” (as in resign) in Englisch but in German you “zurücktreten” (i.e. “to step back”)?
- 'Why' questions seem to come with the presupposition that some authority designed the language in all its details like an engineer, attempting to keep consistent both with itself and against all other varieties. By looking at numerous languages it is easy to see that that is not always the case. Many times there are options and the options are chosen in free variation.
- Prepositions are pretty slippery. They purport to have literal real world direction in mind but the metaphors can easily change from one to the other.
- The Germanic 'phrasal verbs' (trennbare oder untrennbare), verbs with prepositions that are not the head of a prepositional phrase, are all over the place. In English 'get on', German 'steig auf', EN 'call off' GE 'sag ab', EN 'watch out' GE 'pass auf'. Lots of variation.
- 'stepping down' evokes the idea of resigning from a position that is higher than the rest and resigning moves one back to a lower position. 'zurucktreten' evokes the idea of that position being in front of everyone else and resigning moves one back to being with the rest. Both metaphors work perfectly well.