LINGUIST List 3.408

Fri 15 May 1992

Disc: Adjuncts

Editor for this issue: <>


Directory

  1. "Bruce E. Nevin", Re: syntax query
  2. Gabrielle Kirby, adjuncts reply

Message 1: Re: syntax query

Date: Wed, 13 May 92 08:40:46 EDRe: syntax query
From: "Bruce E. Nevin" <bnevinccb.bbn.com>
Subject: Re: syntax query

Michael Newman <MNEHCCUNYVM.bitnet> asks about

1. I can't remember the first time (that) I played golf.

vs.

2. I can't remember the first time when I played golf.

The difference is the elided "that S" which the adverbial "when" clause
modifies in (2):

3. I can't remember the first time that S, (which was) when I played golf.

However, I believe systematic investigation would find that (2) occurs
in the sense of (1)--that is, using "when" in the role of "that"--in
informal registers for many speakers of English. This is shown by the
difference between (4) and (2) (repeated for comparison):

4. I can't remember the first time, when I played golf.

2. I can't remember the first time when I played golf.

The difference is the comma intonation subordinating the "when" clause.
Sentence (4) is reduced from (3) by elision of "that S." Note that (3)
also requires comma intonation for the "when" clause. The desired sense
of sentence (2), synonymous with (1), prohibits comma intonation
subordinating the "when" clause.

Sentence (5) is just the same as (2):

5. Have you forgotten the first time that/when we played golf and these
 antigolf fanatics invaded the country club, stole all the balls, and
 filled the sand traps with quicksand?

It's in an informal register, and the piling on of narrative anecdote
clauses (with "and" rather than "when") makes it easier to overlook use
of "when" where "that" would be required in more formal discourse. See
what happens with comma intonation after "first time:"

6. Have you forgotten the first time [that we came to this town],
 *that/when we played golf and these antigolf fanatics invaded the
 country club, stole all the balls, and filled the sand traps with
 quicksand?

Another differentiator of (5) from (1-4) is the fact that "I don't
remember that S" is pragmatically less plausible than "Have you
forgotten that S." True, there is a usage like "I don't remember that
you told me X [I remember that you said Y instead]," but there is no
rhetoric of rebuttal in these examples.

	Bruce Nevin
	bnbbn.com
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: adjuncts reply

Date: Wed, 13 May 92 11:55:58 BSadjuncts reply
From: Gabrielle Kirby <llskirbysusssys1.rdg.ac.uk>
Subject: adjuncts reply

re: Michael Newman (3.402)

Michael Newman asked about the strings:
a) I can't remember the first time (that) I played golf
b) I can't remember the first time when I played golf
the second of which is 'problematic'. Some further thoughts on this:
1. Depends what we mean by b) not being possible - I think it would be easy to
find such strings in naturally occurring speech (in exactly the kind of
extended context that MN supplied for it, i.e. with WHEN clause being followed
by clauses which it modifes)
2. the difference between the strings: THE FIRST TIME is straightforwardly an
NP in a) which functions as direct object of REMEMBER, and is then expanded by
 aCh
relative clause which may begin with THAT. In b) the NP is not fully expanded
by an adjunct clause - this is its `oddity'.
3. In b), I suggest what shows is the constraint (pragmatic rather than
syntactic?) on a WHEN-clause (adjunct/adjectival clause) to modify a full clause
 (i.e. a proposition-bearing clause): THE FIRST TIME is an NP and not a full
clause, hence the need for more context to render b) `possible'.

Gabrielle Kirby
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue