LINGUIST List 5.76

Fri 21 Jan 1994

Qs: Multiple parts of speech, *These man and woman

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  1. "Ronald Lee Stone", Multiple parts of speech - ALL
  2. David Powers, Re: 5.68 Query: *These man and woman

Message 1: Multiple parts of speech - ALL

Date: Fri, 21 Jan 94 00:47:18 -0Multiple parts of speech - ALL
From: "Ronald Lee Stone" <>
Subject: Multiple parts of speech - ALL

LINGUIST community,

Can a word function dually as more than one part of speech
at the same time? This issue arose during a class discussion
in an introductory composition course that I teach: Rhet 1101:
Writing to Inform and Persuade at the University of Minnesota.
The class and I were discussing a sentence used in the
description of an assignment. The sentence follows:

<<Organization, tone, style, grammar, and mechanics all
factor into this [the grade].>>

 We examined this sentence while considering the use of a
computer-grammar check on a word-processed draft, when the
Microsoft Word 5.1 grammar check caught the sentence in question
as a potential non-sentence. The class and I discussed that it
was indeed a sentence, one with a complex subject: *Organization,
tone, style, grammar, and mechanics*. Then one student asked
if the word ALL was not instead the subject. I said that it
was not. Then he asked if I could tell him what part of speech
it was. I told him and the entire class that the word ALL
functioned as an adjective, modifying the subject. I explained
that one way we could check this would be to remove the subject
of the sentence to see if it still made sense. I said that "all
factor into this ." is not a sentence. Other students agreed with
this, and we went on with the rest of the class.

 As will sometimes happen, I began to think about the sentence in
question after leaving the class. I began to have second thoughts
about what I had told the class. Could not RAll factor into this.S
be a sentence of its own in the proper context? It could. Then what
I told the class was not absolutely correct even if it was correct
within the context of the sentence we discussed.

 So then I tried further attempts to show that ALL was indeed a
modifier in that sentence and not the subject. I tried substituting
another modifier in place of ALL and it worked, the substitution
made sense. (I used the modifier MORE OR LESS.) This eased my
conscience a bit until today I realized that MORE OR LESS
functions as an adverb modifying the verb FACTOR, rather than
as an adjective modifying the subjects of the sentence. This
alarmed me as it was more serious of a mistake to make in telling
the class. I tried other adverbs like SOMEWHAT and they also
seemed to indict me. I tried to substitute adjectives but could
not think of any that would work. Is there some limitation in
using substitution to explain the nature of a sentence?

 Then I looked up the word ALL in the dictionary and it gave
listings as both an adjective (listed first) and an adverb,
with additional listings as a noun and pronoun.

Portions of the definition from WebsterUs New Universal
Unabridged Dictionary 1983 included:

 all Q adj. 1. the whole number of, taken individually
or together: used often with a collective noun; as, *all*
sections should be indicated; *all* the Republicans favor
the plan; *all* the company was uneasy. 3. Every one of:
as, *all* men must eat.

 all Q adv. 1. wholly; completely; entirely; in the
highest degree; very; as, it is *all ready*; he is *all*
for amusement; *all* too dear.

 all Q n. 1. a whole: a totality.
 all Q pron. 1. [*construed as pl.*] every one; as,
*all* must die.

 After reading these definitions, I can see that ALL does
function as an adjective in the sentence, although I haven't
been able to think of a substitute adjective to test this. Yet
it still appears that ALL also functions as an adverb, if we
examine the sentence in terms of *how* the subjects factor. Does
this word ALL function as both an adjective and an adverb here
(and at the same time)? And if so how is one function stronger
or more primary than the other? It seems to me that it can operate
dually, and that the sense of the word does not change conspicuously
in operating as either an adjective or an adverb, the way that other
words will change in sense depending on the way they are used
in a sentence.

 I also checked one of my grammar handbooks, the Little Brown
Handbook, which cautions against using squinting modifiers,
those words that may refer to either a preceding or a following
word. It states that "A modifier can modify only *one* grammatical
element in a sentence. It cannot serve two elements at once."
Is the sentence in question a special case? It does not seem
to be ambiguous.

 Does ALL function dually here or just singly depending on one's
focus? If focus is significant, I think that because the subject
of the sentence in question is more important than the verb in
explaining the nature of the assignment to the class, I can be
comfortable in telling the students that ALL functions as an
adjective here. I'm not sure how much of this I would bring
back to the class to explain further though. Yet I would be
interested in comments on this matter.

Until later,


Ronald L. Stone : : (612) 644-9706
 graduate student : Scientific & Technical Communication
 Department of Rhetoric : University of Minnesota, St. Paul
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Message 2: Re: 5.68 Query: *These man and woman

Date: Fri, 21 Jan 1994 13:13:44 Re: 5.68 Query: *These man and woman
From: David Powers <>
Subject: Re: 5.68 Query: *These man and woman

This is interesting, something I have noted in many European languages.

I'm not just interested in why this is prohibited, but whether there
are languages in which a specifier can be applied to a conjunction
in which the inflections are not correct for the conjuncts both
as a composite and severally.

In English also:

 0e. * A man and woman
 1e. ? The man and woman

This is more obvious in more heavily inflected languages, compare German

 2e. The man and the woman
 2g. Der Mann und die Frau

 3e. Dear Mr and Mrs X
 3g. Lieber Herr X, Liebe Frau X

There would be a tendency to retain the duplicates in German even when
forms are identical, and gender not significant, but not always.

 4e. The men and women
 4g. * Die Maenner und Frauen

 5e. The men and the women [all]
 5g. Die Maenner und die Frauen

I see a subtle contrast between 4e and 5e, in relation to the (resp.
greater and lesser) degree of expectation that they would act together.
Also, I think I've heard both 6g and 7g.

 6e. ? My Honoured ladies and gentlemen
 6g. Meine sehr geehrte Damen und Herren

 7e. * Honoured ladies and honoured gentlemen
 7g. Sehr geehrte Damen, Sehr geehrte Herren

My explanation would be that features which can result in different
forms in a slot prohibit anything in that spot governing a(n unspecified)
compound, combined with a tendency for this requirement to spread, or
harden, so as to affect even feature combinations which cannot exhibit
different surface forms, as in 7g. As I hint below, there may also be
other factors which contrive to keep the second specifier slot present.

I find what I can and can't say of 0-2e extraordinary. I must, for
example have at least all the articles in the following:

"A man and a woman came into the store. {The man and the woman|They} walked
(together) to the counter. The shopkeeper and his son came forward
expectantly. The man and woman then left without saying a word."

For 1e to reach the level of acceptability, for me, it is necessary that
they first be linked together in a definite context (with two definite
articles or a plural pronoun) and then be used in a context where pronoun
anaphor would be impossible or ambiguous). In other words, for me,
a plural phrase requires some sort of buildup in expectation that it
is acting as a unit, before it will fuse.

I would also like to note

8e. The shopkeeper and his son.

and point out that the default expectation would be that there is a slot
to be filled before the second noun, and suggest it is this expectation which
needs to be overcome for fusing.

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