LINGUIST List 12.1971

Sun Aug 5 2001

Disc: Semantics and Pragmatics of to-contraction

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <karenlinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Lotfi, Semantics and pragmatics of to
  2. sharbani, Re: 12.1964, Disc: New: Semantics and Pragmatics of to-contraction
  3. Angus B. Grieve-Smith, Re: Disc: New: Semantics and Pragmatics of to-contraction
  4. Dan Everett, to-contraction: a correction

Message 1: Semantics and pragmatics of to

Date: 3 Aug 2001 22:53:48 EDT
From: Lotfi <Lotfiwww.dci.co.ir>
Subject: Semantics and pragmatics of to

Dan Everett wrote:
>
>(6) a. I got PRO to go. (meaning I have an obligation
>to go - notice that it isn't even clear this sounds
>right in the uncontracted form.)
> b. I gotta go. (Sounds much better than (6a) to me.)
>(7) a. I get PRO to go. (Indicating privilege.)
> b. *I getta go. (Sounds terrible to me and may be
>unattested in the CMU data base.)
>
>Chomsky's theory fails to predict the contrast between
>(6) and (7) because no traces are involved in either
>example.
>
Chomsky's theory simply claims that there's some
adjacency condition on cliticisation in the sense that
traces prevent contraction. It does not claim (and I
doubt any other theory can) that whenever cliticisation
is impossible it must be necessarily due to an
intervening trace. Perhaps there's something else, say
semantic or pragmatic if Dan insists, wrong with (7).
-
The other day I told my son, "Look! if you put the
batteries in the reverse order your toy car won't move."
He came to me a few hours later and said, "Dad! You're
a big liar! The batteries are right in their place but
the car doesn't move yet!" I had some trouble explaining
to him I would be a liar only if the batteries were NOT
right in their place AND the car would still go!
-
Ahmad R. Lotfi
****************************************************
Ahmad R. Lotfi, Ph. D
Department of the English Language, Chair
Azad University at Khorasgan
Esfahan, IRAN.
Mail: lotfiwww.dci.co.ir
http://www.geocities.com/arlotfi/lotfipage.html
*****************************************************
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Message 2: Re: 12.1964, Disc: New: Semantics and Pragmatics of to-contraction

Date: Sun, 4 Aug 1996 15:02:44 +0530
From: sharbani <sharbevsnl.net>
Subject: Re: 12.1964, Disc: New: Semantics and Pragmatics of to-contraction


> LINGUIST List: Vol-12-1964. Fri Aug 3 2001. ISSN: 1068-4875.

> Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2001 08:40:29 -0500
> From: "Dan Everett" <Dan.Everettman.ac.uk>
> Subject: semantics and pragmatics of to-contraction


 I don't have a ready made answer to the interesting problem posed by Dan
Everett, because the details need to be worked out. However, I have the
following suggestions to make:
1) Perhaps it would be helpful to look at similar constructions in other
languages.
2) What has been standardly taken to be a Non-finite clause with a PRO
subject may not be so----It may be a VP Predicate.
 Suppose that is so. Then, contraction will be allowed only across a VP
predicate and neither across a PRO or a trace or across any other head like
a 'P' head.
3) In my work on Bangla Syntax, (Banerji 2001), that is what I found. It was
amply demonstrated that what has always/standardly taken to be a Non-finite
clause,is actually not a non-finite clause. It is a VP Predicate. eg.,

11a) of Bangla would involve a VP predicate and 12a) would involve a PP.
If something similar is happening in English, contraction facts can be
explained.

11) a. I ought PRO to go.
> b. I oughtta go.
> (12) a. I fought PRO to go.
> b. *I foughtta go.

Some more tests are needed besides the standard tests to determine whether a
PRO exists or not.
 Ofcourse, a lot of details need to be worked out before reaching any
conclusion.

SHARBANI BANERJI
sharbevsnl.net

Centre for Applied Linguistics and Translation Studies,
University Of Hyderabad
Hyderabad-500,046,
India.

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Message 3: Re: Disc: New: Semantics and Pragmatics of to-contraction

Date: Sat, 4 Aug 2001 11:06:53 -0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)
From: Angus B. Grieve-Smith <grvsmthunm.edu>
Subject: Re: Disc: New: Semantics and Pragmatics of to-contraction

	Dan Everett's posting raised interesting questions. I think that
a frequency-based account would probably explain some of them.

	Joan Bybee has long argued that collocations that are more
frequent have a greater tendency to be reduced (see her recent book
Phonology and Language Use, or her article in CLS 34 for more
information).

	Based on this idea, my guess is that "I got to go" (meaning
privelege) is significantly less frequent than "I gotta go" (meaning
obligation), and similarly "Who do you want to see Bill?" (or whoever) is
less frequent than "Who do you wanna see?" And I'd lay dollars to donuts
that "I oughta go" is way more frequent than "I fought to go."

	A frequency account is not necessarily incompatible with a
semantic/pragmatic/information structure account based on markedness. 
After all, the unmarked structures are more frequent...

	Of course, my hunches are no substitute for a real frequency
count. Here's a teaser frequency count from AltaVista:

phrase searched		occurrences
- -------------		-----------
"I ought to go"		1768
"I fought to go"	4
"I oughta go"		96

"I got to go"		9423 (most likely includes both meanings)
"I gotta go"		20,125
"I get to go"		6066

	I say "teaser" because AltaVista may not be a representative
sample of English, and because we really need a tagged corpus to know what
the context for the "got to go" hits are. Similarly, a much more detailed
analysis is necessary for the "who do you want to see" question.

- 
				-Angus B. Grieve-Smith
				Linguistics Department
				University of New Mexico
				grvsmthunm.edu
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Message 4: to-contraction: a correction

Date: Sun, 5 Aug 2001 12:17:51 -0500
From: Dan Everett <Dan.Everettman.ac.uk>
Subject: to-contraction: a correction

In my posting on 'to-contraction' I neglected to note in my RRG-based
proposal on the blocked 'wanna' contraction across a trace, as in *'Who do
you wanna see Bill' that the principal difference between the two clauses in
(1) and (2) is that they are different types of 'nexus':

(1) Who do you want [to see]

(2) Who do you want [to see Bill]

(1) is an example of cosubordination and (2) of subordination. These are
technically different kinds of 'embedding' (what RRG calls 'juncture') in
Role and Reference Grammar so this difference alone, or perhaps in
conjunction with my earlier proposal, could explain the difference.

On the other hand, there are various other proposals which do not involve
movement, e.g. the proposal made by Zwicky and Pullum, I believe, that
'wanna' is simply a newly emerging modal, i.e. a single word. This
suggestion might apply to all such cases, in fact, as a few on the FUNKNET
discussion list have suggested.

- Dan Everett
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