"Jupiter destroys the building by wind."
Translation:Iuppiter aedificium vento delet.
Interesting! In that case it must be a dialect issue. For the record I have no problem translating an agent with "by ___," for example "The building was destroyed by wind."
I'm genuinely curious now: are you okay with saying "Jack hit the nail by a hammer"? Because that sounds just awful to me, and I'd consider it structurally equivalent to this sentence.
I'm not a linguist (I'd like to be, but I'm not), so I can't answer with much authority. But hitting a nail "by a hammer" isn't how we use the terms. When you mean that you directly banged on the nail using the hammer, you use "with". Saying "I drove the nail by hammer" makes sense and is probably correct in terms of grammar and usage, but no one ever says it that way.
The whole "by agency of" thing is less direct: For example, you probably would not say "I traveled with a boat", but "I traveled by boat" or something like that. You might say, "I traveled in a boat", but I expect you would agree that "by boat" would be perfectly natural, maybe moreso than "in a boat".
Another example is "by hand". Every English speaker I know of would say that s/he made something "by hand" if it were done manually, as opposed to "by machine". So this usage is not really as unusual as you perhaps think it is.
I see what you're getting at. I still can't use "by" in this context without cringing. I suspect the reason has to do with the difference between the method of doing something (by hand, by boat/train, by accident, by walking/cutting etc.) vs. the instrument used to do it (with a pen, with a catapult, with hands/feet/eyes, etc.). There's some nice discussion of the "with vs. by" debate here: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/233183/which-one-to-use-by-or-with?rq=1
For me, it’s a quo instrumento situation if you can replace the preposition with "using" (or "by means of"). In these cases, I’d always use “with."
Jupiter hit Mars with a lightning bolt = using a lightning bolt.
Jupiter hit Mars with his hand = using his hand.
Jupiter destroys the building with wind = using wind.
Things are less clear-cut if it’s a quomodo situation, where I could use either “by” or “with” depending on the precise context. Either way though, you can't replace the prep. with "using."
Jupiter spoke with laughter. (but not using laughter)
Jupiter traveled by chariot. (but not using chariot)
Jupiter writes letters by hand. (but not using hand)
I think (remember that I'm a thoroughly amateur linguist type) that your examples work pretty well with "using" in place of "by":
- Jupiter traveled using a chariot.
- Jupiter writes letters using his hand(s) [instead of a typewriter or a Morse code key].
These seem to work fine, the only difference being that English wants you to use a specifier of some sort before the subject of the "by" prepositional phrase—in the two cases above, "a" and "his".
(Your first example isn't quite right, I think. I would never say, "Jupiter spoke by laughter." If I did, that probably would mean exactly the same thing as "Jupiter spoke using laughter.")
This is an interesting and informative conversation. I appreciate it. Thanks!
Not a native, but I think it's a meaning issue.
"By a hammer" and "with a hammer" is not the same.
You use "with" when it's a tool. It's not an agent.
You build something with your hammer, you use it, but it's not the hammer that is the "responsable" of your built house.
You use "by.... " when it's an agent.
You destroy something by the use of this. It means, that, if you are a god, you send the wind, and the wind destroys itself the building.
You cannot tell the same of the hammer. It doesn't build anything, it's always you.
If a house is destroyed, it's destroyed by water. If the world is destroyed by the gods, it's destroyed by fire.
So, it explains it's an uncommon use, it's an uncommon situation.
The wind is not an instrument. It's not an hammer. It doesn't have the meanings you linked or quoted.
It's not only "by wind", it's "destroyed by wind".
If you can destroy by fire, you can destroy by wind. It's an element.