LINGUIST List 2.740

Fri 01 Nov 1991

Misc: English NPs and Non-Stative Be

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Directory

  1. "David A. Johns", Active BE, themself
  2. Fan mail from some flounder?, Re: 2.710 Queries
  3. Nancy L. Dray, Response re adjective order
  4. Wayles Browne, Re: 2.710 Queries

Message 1: Active BE, themself

Date: Sun, 27 Oct 1991 18:02 EDT
From: "David A. Johns" <DJOHNSUFPINE.BITNET>
Subject: Active BE, themself
In a recent posting Richard Ogden quotes someone as saying, "If
you don't be very specific ...."
This non-stative BE is more common than you might think at first.
It's even fairly easy to elicit. Imagine a scenario where you
have trouble speaking in front of groups, and you go to a counselor
for help. The counselor counsels, "Just be yourself". You
take this advice, and after a few attempts, find that your
stage fright is fading. You get so comfortable in front of an
audience that a friend remarks on it, asking, "How do you do it?"
How do you answer?
I get the response I want -- "I just be myself" -- about 50% of the
time.
This actually sounds perfectly OK to me, although it seems to follow
the same pattern as "try and" and "go <verb>" in that it works only
if there is no ending on the verb. "He bes himself" sounds pretty
bad, and "He be'ed himself is right out". Of course, "He is being
himself" is OK, and is probably the form from which the others are
backformed.
By the way, the best example of "themself" I've ever heard occurred
(timelily enough) during a World Series a couple of years ago. It
was the one between St. Louis and Kansas City, and the announcer was
interviewing the KC catcher. I don't remember his name, but he had
lost a year due to alcohol problems. The interviewer was asking him
about drug and alcohol problems among players, and asked if he thought
players should go into treatment programs rather than fighting the
problem alone. The player answered, "Well, I guess that's a problem
every player is going to have to decide among themself."
David Johns
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Message 2: Re: 2.710 Queries

Date: Mon, 28 Oct 1991 13:31 EST
From: Fan mail from some flounder? <SDFNCRritvax.isc.rit.edu>
Subject: Re: 2.710 Queries
Re Valentine's query about adjective order in NP's: I believe Zeno Vendler
wrote an article where he pointed out that in English NP's are in the order
least-noun-like to most noun-like. So for example, "white" is more noun-\
like than "pretty," since "white" can also serve as a noun, hence we say
"pretty white house," and not "white pretty house."
Susan Fischer
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Message 3: Response re adjective order

Date: Tue, 29 Oct 91 22:30:03 CST
From: Nancy L. Dray <draysapir.uchicago.edu>
Subject: Response re adjective order
In response to L. Valentine's 25 Oct request for literature on
the order of adjectives in NP's in French and English:
Try the following article, which also has a useful bibliography:
Waugh, Linda R. 1976. "The semantics and paradigmatics of word order,"
Language 52:82-107.
NLD
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Message 4: Re: 2.710 Queries

Date: Sun, 27 Oct 91 22:12:11 EST
From: Wayles Browne <JN5JCORNELLA.cit.cornell.edu>
Subject: Re: 2.710 Queries
On order of adjectives in English NPs: there is a good deal of work, including
notably an essay in a book of collected articles by Zeno Vendler.
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