LINGUIST List 18.2479|
Thu Aug 23 2007
Qs: Regarding Posting 18.2457
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Regarding Posting 18.2457
Message 1: Regarding Posting 18.2457
From: Bingfu Lu <lubingfuyahoo.com>
Subject: Regarding Posting 18.2457
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This dissertation (18.2457, Diss: Psycholing/Syntax: Lorimor: 'Conjunctions
and Grammatical Agreement') sounds interesting to me, since I am doing some
investigation on the relation between the distance/adjacency and the
marking (cases, co-indexing, agreement etc) of the head and its dependents.
In many cases, the more distant the two constituents are, or the more deviated
from its canonical position the dependent is, the more needed the relational
marking is. Such examples are ample; for instance, in Chinese, when an
adjective serves as an adverbial of the verb, if it is adjacent to or
precedes the verb, the adverbial marker –de (similar to English –ly) is
optional; if it is separated from the head verb, or postponed after the
verb (non-canonical position), the marker-de is necessary, as shown below.
a. Ta zai tushuguan renzhen(-de) zhao ziliao. (Chinese)
He in library cautious-ly search data
‘He is cautiously searching data in the library.’
b. Ta renzhen*(-de) zai tushuguan zhao ziliao.
a. Ta jianjian(-de) kangfu-le.
he gradual(-ly) recuperate-PFCT
‘He gradually recuperated (from an illness)
b. Jianjian*(-de), ta kangfu-le
c. Ta kangfu-le, jianjian*(-de).
Similar data are ample cross-linguistically. To cite some from English:
a. He climbed (up) the mountain.
b. He climbed steadily *(up) the mountain.
a. He was my lover *(for) 20 years.
b. He was 20 years my lover.
(5) a. I took three years *(of) Chinese.
b. I took Chinese *(for) three years.
a. John believes (that) Mary will win.
b. John believes wholeheartedly *?(that) Mary will win.
b. *(That) Mary will win, John believes wholeheartedly.
The number agreement in the dissertation seems to be a counter-example to
the above tendencies.
My first assumed explanation is that information redundancy works here.
When the dependent is separated from its head word, or deviated from its
canonical position, it tends to be forgotten if the marker is
informationally redundant; it tends to be used if it is not redundant.
However, redundancy is an issue of degree. Such an explanation seems
My second assumed explanation is related to the formal markedness. When
the number agreement is dropped in English, it is actually using an extra
marker –s on the verb, in contrast to the zero agreement form. In other
words, though –s of singular third person of agreement is taken as
unmarked in the sense that it is the most unconditioned, it is formally
marked. Such a contradiction between the formal and conditional
unmarkedness leads to the malfunction of the above mentioned tendencies.
I need more data both for and against the tendencies.
Institute of Linguistics
Shanghai Normal University
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