LINGUIST List 2.753

Mon 04 Nov 1991

Disc: Pro-Drop, NP Order

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  1. Anita Mittwoch, `pro-drop', etc. in English
  2. , Re: 2.737 Pro-Drop, Come and Bring
  3. Cathy Ball, English "pro-drop"
  4. Nancy L. Dray, Order of adjs in NPs

Message 1: `pro-drop', etc. in English

Date: Sun, 3 Nov 1991 14:21 IST
From: Anita Mittwoch <hcumaHUJIVM1.BITNET>
Subject: `pro-drop', etc. in English
Jespersen called this phenomenon `prosiopesis'. In *The Philosophy of Grammar*
(Norton edition 1965, p. 310) he writes: "the speaker begins to articulate, or
thinks he begins to articulate, but produces no audible sound (either for want
of expiration, or because he does not put his vocal chords in the right posi-
tion) till one or two syllables after the beginning of what he intended to say"
See also *A Modern English Grammar*, Vols. III and VII, both of which have
several references in the index. I suspect that `pronoun zap' in German is
essentially the same phenomenon, e.g. *Hab' ihn schon gesehen*, `I've already
seen him'; *Hab'ich schon gesehen*, `I've already seen him/it/her/them'. These
examples are from Huang `On the distribution and reference of empty pronouns'
(attributed to Ross). Huang seems to regard tthem as exemplifying a syntactic
phenomenon, rather than a phonological one.
 Anita Mittwoch, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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Message 2: Re: 2.737 Pro-Drop, Come and Bring

Date: Mon, 4 Nov 91 07:35 CST
From: <>
Subject: Re: 2.737 Pro-Drop, Come and Bring
Re: English "pro-drop"
I wonder if this isn't really "absolute sentence initial position
drop" ; it just happens that subject pronouns frequently find
themselves in this position. Examples like "Flows pretty natural"
are unlike real cases of "pro-drop" in other languages in a
number of ways.
1. They occur only in absolute sentence initial position, not in
embedded sentences, for example. Cf.
(1) Flows pretty natural (2) *John said that flows pretty natural
2. They occur only in casual speech, where one might expect the
dropping of initial and final elements, both in syntax and phonology
3. Pronouns don't normally drop in questions , where they are
preceded by an auxiliary, unless the auxiliary drops too. Cf.
(3) You coming? (4) Coming? (5)*Are coming
Akmajian , Demers and Harnish have a nice discussion of such cases
in their textbook.
I believe there is a Univ. of Michigan dissertation that deals with
some of the English pro-drop cases, from the 70's or possibly
earlier. Can't think of the author right now, but will try to dig
it up.
Jeanette Gundel, Univ. of Minnesota
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Message 3: English "pro-drop"

Date: Mon, 4 Nov 1991 14:17 EST
From: Cathy Ball <CBALLGUVAX.bitnet>
Subject: English "pro-drop"
To the list of references for English "pro-drop" may be added work
from computational lx, e.g. Linebarger, Dahl, Hirschman and Passonneau
1988: "Sentence fragments regular structures", Proceedings of the 26th
ACL. I also have a short MS, "Zero-subjects in three message corpora".
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Message 4: Order of adjs in NPs

Date: Sun, 3 Nov 91 16:39:30 CST
From: Nancy L. Dray <>
Subject: Order of adjs in NPs
My previous posting in response to L. Valentine's request for literature
on the ordering of adjectives in NPs assumed the question to pertain to
the order of adjective and head noun--i.e., was the adjective preceding or
following the noun. Now I think I may have misunderstood (oops!), and
Valentine may actually have been asking about the ordering of MULTIPLE
adjectives within a noun phrase. The Linda R. Waugh article that I cited
focuses on differences between preposed and postposed modifiers in French;
nevertheless, it contains much about the nature of modification and
the analysis of word order that may be relevant to Valentine's inquiry.
But in case I did indeed misinterpret Valentine's query (as I suspect
I did), here are some additional references that more directly
concern the ordering of multiple adjectives within a noun phrase.
(I just happened to come across these two books in the library yesterday,
so I don't know much about them beyond titles. I hope they prove useful.)
Wulff Alonso, Enrique. 1979. La modification prenominal en ingles:
modificadores prenominales multiples y sus correspondencias espanolas.
(Madrid: Sociedad General Espanola de Libreria, S.A.
Bache, Carl. 1978. The order of premodifying adjectives in present-
day English. Odense University Press.
(Apologies for omitted diacritics in the Spanish--I don't know how to
insert accents in e-mail.)
Good luck.
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