When I studied linguistics 40-some years ago, it was understood that
PP → Prep NP
But I’ve discovered sources that suggest that the class of prepositions is (now?) understood much more broadly.
Consider this source, according to which while is a preposition in the sentence
The doorbell rang while we were eating dinner.
Now, syntactically, that sentence seems to me little different from
The doorbell rang, but we were in no hurry to answer it.
I’d have said that each of these sentences consists of a pair of clauses linked by a conjunction. Of course while and but are performing different semantic functions here: the former establishes a chronological relationship between the meanings of the clauses, whereas the latter establishes a logical one. But beyond that…
Cambridge says that “as, when and while are conjunctions.” So if I’m out of date, then at least I would appear to be in good company.
Anyway, has the world moved on? Do prepositions no longer have objects? And does anyone suppose that the conjunctions harbor a grudge about the reduction in their number?
I know I’m supposed to formulate a single question, but wow!
- What is the current “officially decreed” concept of a preposition?
- When did it change?
- What are the most compelling counter arguments raised by the (presumably reactionary) objectors?