On Sat, May 30, 2009 at 3:20 PM, Gary Shannon <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> On Sat, May 30, 2009 at 11:10 AM, Eldin Raigmore
> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> "The next LCS conference will be at Reykjavik."
> Speaking only for myself, using "at" with a city name in any context
> just feels very wrong to me.

Not "in any context", but certainly in general, it is very wrong IML.
To say that something is located within the city limits of city X, one
says it is "in" X, not "at" X.

Furthermore, in those rare instances where "at X" does occur for some
city X, it doesn't mean the same thing as "in X".  It means "at [some
specific institution or event with which the listener is familiar that
is located or taking place in] X."  For instance, "at the X
office/bureau/campus/base": "I'm stationed at Reykjavik" refers to a
specific military installation.  "I'm up at Santa Cruz" must refer to
the University, not just the city).  If it has been established that
the next LCS will be in Reykjavik, I might say "I'll be at Reykjavik"
to mean "I'll be at the LCS when it is in Reykjavik".  But "in" would
still be correct, and more likely.

> The only exception I can think of might be "The arrow points at
> Chicago." But that talks about direction, not location.

There's always "The University of Illinois at Chicago".  But this use
of "at" for specific campuses in a university system feels like a set
phrase, and is related to the elision meaning I gave above.  You
certainly wouldn't say *"the main campus of the University of Illinois
is at Chicago"; you'd have to say "in Chicago".  A Google search for
"at Chicago" confirms this - the top results are all names of
colleges, schools within the college, embassies, etc.  Going down the
list the hits are all using the city name as a possessive modifier of
the sort of noun you normally use "at" with: "at Chicago's Tea Party",
"at Chicago's famous such-and-such restaurant"...

Of course, prepositions are a dodgy lot, directional ones the worst of
all.  Consider the Italian "ho viaggato in Italia", which means "I
(have) travelled *to* Italy", despite the direct gloss seeming to say
"I have travelled *within* Italy".

Mark J. Reed <[log in to unmask]>