LINGUIST List 2.737

Fri 01 Nov 1991

Misc: Pro-Drop, Come and Bring

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Ellen Prince, Re: Queries
  2. , Shouldn't Ignore These Strings
  3. , Re: Queries
  4. Georgia Green, Re: "pro&aux" drop
  5. Adam Kilgarriff, Come and Bring

Message 1: Re: Queries

Date: Wed, 30 Oct 91 21:27:05 EST
From: Ellen Prince <>
Subject: Re: Queries
>Date: Tue, 29 Oct 91 21:24:43 EST
>From: Graham Katz <>
>Subject: English "pro-drop"
>Flows pretty natural, once you get rolling.
>Certainly this has been noted and discussed
>in the literature, but where? Can't find it.
Schmerling, S. 1973. Subjectless sentences and the notion of surface
structure. CLS 9.
also, there is a dissertation in progress that includes this topic by
sharon cote, univ. of penn.,
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Shouldn't Ignore These Strings

Date: Thu, 31 Oct 91 10:49:00 EST
From: <>
Subject: Shouldn't Ignore These Strings
 Graham Katz asks about sentoids like:
 > Been planting corn all day.
 > Seems like Jake sold the farm.
 > Watch the crops for me?
 > Going home for break?
 As it happens, I chaired a dissertation study of precisely this
 phenomenon some years back. Here's the reference:
 Thrasher, Randolph Hallett, Jr. (1974) _Shouldn't Ignore These
 Strings: A Study of Conversational Deletion_.
 Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan.
 This is available, like all U.M. dissertations, from University
 Microfilms in the usual way. It's pretty good, and pretty thorough,
 and holds up remarkably well 17 years later. Thrasher (who has
 been living and teaching in Japan for many years - don't know his
 e-mail address, sorry) analyzes this as, essentially, a pragmatic
 phenomenon with syntactic effects.
 (A parenthetical note: despite the bucolic nature of some of the
 examples these are by no means restricted to rural contexts.)
 Some interesting exx (from memory):
 a) Wife's on the phone, Bill. (= Your wife)
 b) *Turn, Bill. (= Your turn)
 c) *Bill, wife's on the phone.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: Re: Queries

Date: Thu, 31 Oct 91 23:07:04 EDT
Subject: Re: Queries
Re Graham Katz's query (Linguist List 2.729) on "English pro-drop"--his
examples included "Seems like Jake sold the farm" and "Been planting corn all
day", but the process extends to those speaking with no straw between their
teeth--this has indeed been worked on. One fairly recent reference is Donna
Jo Napoli (1982), "Initial Material Deletion in English", Glossa 16: 85-111.
The general phenomenon of subjectless declaratives and other free-standing
subsentential constituents is treated in greater depth in Ellen Barton's 1990
book, "Nonsentential Constituents" (John Benjamins).
 Larry Horn
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 4: Re: "pro&aux" drop

Date: Fri, 1 Nov 91 9:44:43 CST
From: Georgia Green <>
Subject: Re: "pro&aux" drop
The best references I know on this phenomenon are:
 Susan Schmerling. Subjectless sentences and the notion surface structure.
	CLS 9 (1973)
 Randy Thrasher. University of Michigan Ph.D. diss. circa 1975.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 5: Come and Bring

Date: Mon, 28 Oct 91 10:59:14 GMT
From: Adam Kilgarriff <>
Subject: Come and Bring
Firstly, thanks to everyone who replied to my query. The reference must have
been Robert Binnick (1971) "Bring and come", LI 2.2 260-265. It contains a
long list of parallel idioms for the two verbs.
As Larry Horn point out, at the time the parallel lists entered into a debate
about lexical decomposition. My interest in the data is rather different: I'm
concerned with the hypothesis that words of `related meaning' tend to share
the same patterns of variation in word sense (where `related meaning' means
`in the same semantic field/thesaurus entries' or, for those wanting something
tighter, `similar distribution (in relation to syntax and collocates)' though
that needs stating carefully to avoid tautology). Provided that we are willing
to consider phrasal verbs and idioms as collocations based on distinct senses
of the base verb, Binnick's list gives striking support to the hypothesis.
Larry Horn listed "come to grief" as an expression which did not have a
parallel with "bring". But acceptability is certainly a matter of degree.
 "The Wall Street Crash brought to grief his plans for building a
 publishing empire."
is not so odd. There is a productive process here, along the lines of "if word
X is used with sense X1, and the situation is similar to one where X1 applies
but for some factor F, and the core sense of word Y varies from the core sense
of X by F, then we can generate and use a sense Y1 of word Y".
 factor F
 Words: X ----------------> Y
 | |
 | |
 V factor F V
 Senses X1 ----------------> By analogy, Y1
The 'acceptability' of Y in sense Y1 then breaks down into the factors that
determine the ready availability of the analogy: How similar are X and Y? Does
factor F conflict with the X/X1 alternation? (The reservation about `bring to
grief' possibly stems from the interaction of the relatively fixed form of
`come to grief' with the preference for `bring' to be immediately followed by
its direct object.) Are there pre-existing senses of Y which interfere with
the generation of a Y1 sense? Are both F and the X/X1 alternation sufficiently
simple to be compounded without cognitive confusion? Is X heard sufficiently
often in its X1 sense for the X/X1 alternation to be a well-worn path, or does
it involve interpretative labour to cross from the one to the other?
If this is valid, there is a research program implied. This will seek out what
X/X1 alternations there are for different semantic fields, test the extent to
which all the members of the semantic field have the same potential for
polysemy, and consider the circumstances under which alternations are blocked
or can be compounded.
Would others agree?
Adam Kilgarriff
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue