LINGUIST List 14.1453

Tue May 20 2003

Disc: Anaphora Makes the Headlines

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


Directory

  1. Joseph T. Farquharson, Anaphora Makes the Headlines
  2. Mike Maxwell, Anaphora makes the headlines
  3. Simon Smith, Anaphora makes the headlines
  4. MICHAEL A COVINGTON, Disc: Summing up: Anaphora makes the headlines

Message 1: Anaphora Makes the Headlines

Date: Tue, 20 May 2003 03:58:10 +0000
From: Joseph T. Farquharson <jtfarquharsonyahoo.co.uk>
Subject: Anaphora Makes the Headlines

Why can't a possessive nominal serve as an antecedent for a pronoun? I
thought its status as a nominal would over-ride the genitive property,
since the genitive property is an INFLECTION for case and word class
doesn't change even though it has acquired modificational/adjectival
properties.

It is true that the pronoun that follows the V does not have to bear
any close relationship to the possessive noun. But this is a matter of
co-referentiality. So in English, the pronoun may (Ex. 1) or may not
be (Ex. 2 & 3)co-referential with the the preceding possessive noun:

1. The professor's book enables him (the professor).... 2. The
professor's book enables him (somebody else)... 3. The professor's
book enables them .....


4. *The lady's['] book enables him [']....
5. The lady's['] book enables her [']...

In English, it is a requirement that the pronoun shares the same
properties (gender, number) as the NOUN in the higher cluse with which
it is co-referenced{symbol used here[']} (Ex. 4. & 5.) If there is no
co-referential relationship then there are no such restrictions on the
pronoun.

The student's argument that an adjective cannot act as an antecedent
for a pronoun appears to be correct for English, but I maintain that
in the sentence under question 'Toni Morrison's' was still acting as a
noun (with adjectival properties. If not the sentence would have been
ungrammatical for many more speakers.

The matter of Toni Morrison CREATING something that ARISES (i.e. that
is already in existence) is another issue. On the level of semantics
there is something wrong with the sentence but syntactically it seems
fine to me.

Subject-Language: English; Code: ENG 
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Message 2: Anaphora makes the headlines

Date: Tue, 20 May 2003 09:28:43 +0000
From: Mike Maxwell <maxwellldc.upenn.edu>
Subject: Anaphora makes the headlines

I presume this alleged rule would rule out a sentence like

 John's mother loves him.

Rediculous.

BTW, in the discussion on the American Dialect Society thread on this
(referenced by a previous posting to Linguist List, and readable at
the Linguist List site), Beverly Flanigan wrote:

 ...the writing prof at OU's (reasonably well known) 
 J[ournalism]-school has said, publicly, that we 
 linguists are ''too tolerant'' and ''dangerous influences.''

''dangerous''--I like that!

 Mike Maxwell
 Linguistic Data Consortium 
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Message 3: Anaphora makes the headlines

Date: Tue, 20 May 2003 14:34:57 +0100
From: Simon Smith <smithsgjeee.bham.ac.uk>
Subject: Anaphora makes the headlines

Are these exams for non-native speakers of English?

It sounds as if they are not; but given that the grammaticality or
otherwise of an utterance is determined by the judgements of native
speakers of the language concerned, I cannot see that this examination
technique has any validity at all. It's circular, isn't it?

Is Grammaticality Judgement a standard part of the American secondary
school curriculum? I've just asked round the lab here -- there's a
good spread of ages -- and as far as I can make out this field of
study has never been represented in the UK system.

I'm glad, because it sounds awfully tedious.
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Message 4: Disc: Summing up: Anaphora makes the headlines

Date: Tue, 20 May 2003 15:31:32 -0400
From: MICHAEL A COVINGTON <mcuga.edu>
Subject: Disc: Summing up: Anaphora makes the headlines

I want to thank numerous people who have written to me. Reportedly,
what happened is that although the sentence is grammatical, the
College Board encountered students who had been taught that it was
not, and decided to count their test answers correct also. This was
probably a wise move.

I think we need to raise the public's consciousness about the fact
that grammar books and dictionaries can be inaccurate. Nobody has
identified the grammar books in question, but it sounds like someone
started with a confused and over-broad definition of "adjective" and
drew incorrect conclusions.

Thanks for a lively discussion!


Michael A. Covington - Associate Director
Artificial Intelligence Center, The University of Georgia
http://www.ai.uga.edu/~mc
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