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Sara Trevisan wrote:

> Actually, English _does_ work just like Chinese. I don't have the
> right example at hand in Chinese, but anyway they're both 'insulating'
> languages.
>
> The only common circumstances in English to change the word order are
> questions and paratactical clauses such as 'nor did I'. And this has a
> Chomskyan explanation through the moving of the costituents in the
> sentence, beginning from the CP down to the last NP/PP. And remember,
> this is typical of any language because it is caused by universal
> syntactic laws.
>
> That is, the structure for questions is: do+you+know+it? CP contains
> an 'operator' that causes the raising of the verb. In English, the
> main verb cannot be put before the subject (because of the word-order
> rule), so the meaningless 'do' shows up, to fill in the empty place in
> the abstract syntactic structure. You see, in Italian, it would be:
> lo+sai+(tu)? (lo= it; sai= know; tu= you, but the subject is not
> compulsory because Italian has a different termination for each person
> in the conjugation of verbs). As you can see, 'tu' (the subject) would
> be put after the verb, and the operator's place would be empty again.
> But we can perceive its presence from the reversal order of the
> subj+verb structure. [do not mind 'lo': it's just a proclitic particle
> that can be made explicit through a dimostrative pronoun to be located
> after the verb, or the subject, if present.]
>
> I could make other examples with French and Russian and Spanish...but
> they all work just like that. Perceptible 'operators' in English
> (causing the raising of the verb) are: so, no one, only, a few, nor, ecc.
> Ex. So did John. / Few people could I trust.
> Whenever there is a simple verb in English, auxiliary 'do' must be
> added -- because in English the main verb cannot be raised beyond the
> location of the subject.
>
> Nancy Gish wrote:
> > So
> what is happening is that a modifier is added at any point you like
> because all the words can take either an adverb or an adjective.
>
> This is the very point. Indeed, a phrase such as 'the
> so-often-deplored invasion' is nothing else but
> determiner+pre-modifier+Noun. Pre-modifiers can be adjectives and
> adverbs but they CANNOT be whole clauses. That is why 'among Germans'
> could not be right in that position (sorry, Gunnar, I don't mean to
> underline the mistake -- just using it as an example). Pre-modifiers
> are often underlined to be thus by the adding of hyphens (as Marcia
> pointed out when suggesting to render 'so-often-deplored' as an
> adjectival phrase), to underline that they are separated from the noun
> phrase but always referred to it. Post-modifiers can be Prepositional
> Phrases and whole clauses (i.e. relative clauses) -- but they are
> evidently linked to the preceiding noun through a preposition or a
> relative pronoun.
>
> So, the word order is fixed, whereas you can create endless series of
> pre-modifiers to a sentence, by means of making them adjectives. But
> adjectives in English are always put before the noun they refer to.
> And the result is always the same -- the word order is not flexible.
> And the reason is, of course, the loss of desinential terminations.
>
> Sorry for the long post --
> Sara --
>

Wow!  Thanks, Sara, for explaining these things.  About all I can add is
that in rewriting sentences (my occupation for the past several years) I
always enjoyed the chain of changes necessitated by one change.

Marcia