LINGUIST List 5.90

Wed 26 Jan 1994

Disc: Adverb all

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  1. RichardHudson50, ALL

Message 1: ALL

Date: Sat, 22 Jan 94 16:51:37 +0ALL
From: RichardHudson50 <>
Subject: ALL

Ronald Stone asks about "all" following an NP. There are excellent
reasons for thinking that (in his terms) it is an adverb - it can easily
be separated from the NP by an auxiliary verb, and indeed this is the
normal position (the coordination in his examples is irrelevant - you just
need a plural NP):

(1) The students have all gone home.
(2) ?The students all have gone home.

Furthermore, it can occur even without the NP:

(3) Having all gone home, we went to bed.

On the other hand, if the NP happens to be a personal pronoun, there are
good reasons for thinking that "all" is part of the NP, some kind of modifier
(adjective??): it can occur as indirect/first object, or as focus in a
cleft sentence:

(4) I gave them all a good mark.
(5) It was them all that I invited.

(Not so sure about example (5), but then "them" on its own is pretty bad as
a clefted focus.) Compare:

(6) *I gave the students all a good mark.
(7) *It was the students all that I invited.

But I also notice that "all" normally follows the auxiliary, like an adverb,
if the subject is "they":

(8) They have all gone home.

This shows that when "all" follows "they" as subject in examples like (9), it
could be taken equally well as either an adverb (depending on the verb), or as
an `adjective', depending on "they":

(9) They all went to bed.

Which just goes to show that syntactic ambiguity is possible without any trace
of semantic ambiguity. I don't think that's what the discussion was really
meant to be about, but anyway the facts about "all" are rather fascinating,
I think.

Dick Hudson
Dept of Phonetics and Linguistics,
University College London,
Gower Street,
London WC1E 6BT
(071) 387 7050 ext 3152
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