Prepositions of the Daleks

This week Whovian Leap goes all grammatical and looks at Dalek movements.

Tomorrow sees Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor encounter his arch-enemies, the Daleks. The title of Saturday’s episode – “Into the Dalek” – might cause some Whovians overseas, however, to scratch their heads over a teensy linguistic conundrum. In an ever globalised fandom, many new Doctor Who fans are non-native speakers of English. It could be the case that their own languages do not have so-called ‘prepositions of movement’ and they may well wonder why tomorrow’s adventure isn’t actually titled “In the Dalek” – as many languages do not differentiate between “in” and “into”…

The phrase ‘in the Dalek’ contains a preposition of location – ‘in’. No motion is involved. We aredescribing where someone or something is – probably, in this case, a amorphous blobby thing. Tomorrow’s episode – “Into the Dalek” – however, contains a preposition of movement – ‘into’ – and involves movement from one place to another – very much what is written on the polycarbide Dalekanium tin and precisely where we seem to be heading!

“In the Dalek”

Interestingly, there have been several Doctor Who story titles which include a preposition of movement. We have “Mission to the Unknown”, “Fury from the Deep”, “Spearhead from Space”, “Four to Doomsday”, “A Good Man Goes to War” and “Journey to the Centre of the Tardis” to name a few. Some of Hartnell’s individual episode titles include prepositions of movement – “All Roads Lead To Rome”, “Flight through Eternity” and “Journey into Terror”. Coincidentally the last two titles are from another Dalek tale – “The Chase”. With a name like that, it is hardly surprising that those titles contain a preposition of movement!

Will we ever see others in a Dalek story title? Can you imagine “Onto the Dalek”, “Across the Dalek” or “Around the Dalek”? Methinks not, although Katy Manning seemed to manage all three in that oh-so famous photo shoot! But in the meantime, let’s enjoy some more prepositional “to-ing and fro-ing” with our pepperpot friends…

“Out of” a window with the Fifth Doctor.

“Into” the water with the Third in ‘Planet of the Daleks’.

And back “out” again in ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’.

And “across” a bridge in the same story!

A movie Dalek comes “out from” under the covers.

Running “away from” the ‘Asylum of the Daleks’.

Movie Daleks moving ‘towards’ the Doctor.

Davros coming ‘out of’ the Emperor’s casing.

Last but not least and in the same story, ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’, we see a Dalek famously going ‘up’ a flight of stairs for the first time!

So there you have it. Shortly after the episode airs, please visit the site for a review of “Into the Dalek”. Assuming, of course, we actually make it back ‘out’!


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