Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's not just lexical. You can walk — or run, crawl, scurry, roll, etc. — out the gate, out the back, out the exit, etc. You can look — or stare, peer, gaze, squint, etc. — out the window, out the porthole, out the viewport, out the sunroof, etc.
But you can't (standardly) walk out the house, or out the plaza, or out the village, or whatever — all of those need "of". Nor can you (standardly) peer out the box, or stare out the car, or shoot out the bushes — though you can perfectly well shoot at someone out of the bushes, etc.
Apparently out as a transitive preposition has something to do with transiting from within an enclosed space through a limited aperture of some kind.

Mark Liberman at Language Log 

Conversely, out of has to do with exiting an enclosure or container.
It seems to me that you walk or come out of X for those X values where you can’t be in X in the sense of inside X or fully within X.” You can be in the bushes, in the house, in the water, in the blue, and in the car, all of which are containers of sorts (or of you), so you walk or come out of those things. You cannot be inside the door or the window, so you come out those things (without of).

commenter Steve Kass, ibid.


Ahk4iePaiv8u said...

Well, one may easily think, that his own mind is an enclosure too, but going out of it doesn't necessarily mean OUT, rather into ( inside of ) something else :)

It's quite strange we, humans, are somehow obsessive about constructing more and more "general rules", which further have their more and more exceptions. Despite of it's lack of practical meaning, composing such rules always fascinates somehow, even when observation is quite obvious - or maybe because of that.

Ahk4iePaiv8u said...

The missing difference is the word "through". In Polish and Italian, there are seven cases, in Russian there are six. Cases are defined by questions they answer, and determine sufixes of noun in particular case. Second and fourth ( genitive and accusative) in PL/IT/RU are the ones which apply to this. "to look out the window" means "to look out the window standing by the window, staying behind the glass", and "to look out of the window" means, hm, "to look out the window, with head sticked out of it outside, physically through it". Questions are untranslatable precisely, but genitive answers "from where?", accusative answers "through what?", and both can be used with "look" and "window"/"windows". Effective meaning is probably the same, someone looked and watched something outside, but you have usually four suffixes with singular+through, singular+from, plural+through and plural+from. Exceptions are e.g. non-native nouns used commonly as native (like "taxi" and "radio"), and special countable nouns which don't have singular form in Polish at all - e.g. "scissor" and "pant" ( for these, there's only plural in PL, scissors and pants, so to express prisely that he's speaking about e.g. a box containing a few, one has to use additionally "pairs of" in plural ).
More forms, more complication, but also more possible combinations to describe particular situation more precisely :)