LINGUIST List 11.2155

Fri Oct 6 2000

Sum: "Be" Omission in Newscasts

Editor for this issue: Lydia Grebenyova <lydialinguistlist.org>


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  1. Carson T Schutze, omitted 'be' in newscasts

Message 1: omitted 'be' in newscasts

Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2000 23:48:34 -0400 (EDT)
From: Carson T Schutze <cschutzeMIT.EDU>
Subject: omitted 'be' in newscasts

Re: 11.1880
A few weeks ago I posted a query about the use of English sentences with
omitted 'be' as (apparently) matrix assertions, for example in newscasts.
Thanks to the respondents: Richard Ingham, Martin Kay, Jim Vanden Bosch and
Hank Mooney.

No one knew of a systematic study of this, but people did point out other
contexts where something similar seems to occur:

- traffic reports
- sponsorship announcements ('That accident report brought to you by Firestone')
- sports play-by-play (which may take it further, apparently omitting
 contentful main verbs too, e.g. 'Beckam back to Stam' with omission of
 'passes')

In addition to my suggestion of a partial similarity with Headlinese, another
avenue of exploration suggested was absolute constructions.
It was pointed out that other manifestations of finiteness are not omitted in
this register, i.e. one cannot omit auxiliary 'have' or 3sg -s.

- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carson T. Schutze Department of Linguistics, UCLA
Email: cschutzeucla.edu Box 951543, Los Angeles CA 90095-1543 U.S.A.

Office: Campbell Hall 2224B Deliveries/Courier: 3125 Campbell Hall
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