At work, some proofreaders and I were going over a set of chapters when I came across the following sentence:
Identify whether the item in each number is a legend, superstition, or a song passed down by oral tradition.
To me, it was apparent that the preposition by was being used incorrectly in this sentence so I made the necessary corrections and changed by to from.
One proofreader contested my claim and changed from to through. The argument is that if we use from it makes the assumption that legends, superstitions, or songs are passed on directly from oral tradition instead of people. I stated that if we interpreted it that way then through would also be incorrect in that sense because it denotes movement and legends, superstitions, or songs don't pass through oral tradition in the literal sense (granted it passes through orally when spoken but still by people). Does it not already imply that people pass down these "products of oral tradition"?
In this situation, would it be better to use the preposition through or from? Or to clear up any confusion would it be better to reword the sentence to something like, "Identify whether the item in each number is a legend, superstition, or oral tradition passed down from generation to generation by making use of oral tradition.".