LINGUIST List 7.624

Fri Apr 26 1996

Qs: English Textbooks, Conjunction, Agency

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  1. Mike_MaxwellSIL.ORG, textbooks of English
  2. Byong-Kwon Kim, Qs: Conjunction as a subcategorizer
  3. "Ana C. Ostermann", Q: Agency in Narratives

Message 1: textbooks of English

Date: Thu, 25 Apr 1996 21:35:00 CDT
From: Mike_MaxwellSIL.ORG <Mike_MaxwellSIL.ORG>
Subject: textbooks of English

The following is from my son's seventh grade English textbook
("Houghton Mifflin English", 1990):

 A phrase is a group of words that is used as a single word in a
 sentence. A prepositional phrase begins with a preposition, ends
 with the object of the preposition, and includes any words that
 modify the object. [p. 447]

 Adjective Phrases. You have learned that prepositional phrases are
 used as single words. A prepositional phrase that functions as an
 adjective is called an adjective phrase... [Example:] "Wallpaper
 was a cheap substtute {for woven wall hangings}." ... [p. 451]

 Adverb Phrases. A prepositional phrase that functions as an adverb is
 called an adverb phrase... [Examples:] "We will travel {with a tour.}."
 ... "This tour is famous {for its careful planning}." ... "Have you
 ever traveled far {from home}?" [p. 453]

(I've used curly braces to delineate the phrases in question, where
they used colored ink. I've also added quotes.)

I think there are a number of infelicities in the above, but the part
that really bothers me is the idea that adjective phrases are always
and only prepositional phrases. I find no mention in the book of what
I would term _true_ adjective phrases ("angry at his boss", "yellow
with age"); the index refers only to p. 451 and some other pages
repeating the same idea, while the lexicon of grammatical terms at the
end of the book again identifies adjective phrases exclusively with
PPs that modify a noun or pronoun. Likewise, adverb phrases are
identified exclusively with PPs that modify verbs, adjectives or other
adverbs; there is no mention of other kinds of AdvPs, (if indeed PPs
in adverbial roles should be called adverbial phrases at all).

Clearly what they're doing is attempting to do is to distinguish
between modification of nouns by PPs and adverbial modification by
PPs, but it seems to me that they only muddle the issue with their

Do others find the texts above to be out in left field, or am I a
relic of ancient grammar? (By ancient, I guess I mean grammars like
Jackendoff's X-bar book.)
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Message 2: Qs: Conjunction as a subcategorizer

Date: Fri, 26 Apr 0500 08:36:43
From: Byong-Kwon Kim <>
Subject: Qs: Conjunction as a subcategorizer

There are languages in which "conjunctive" coordinators like "and" in
English select for particular categories: Van Oirsouw (1987) notes
that in the Kru languages, coordination is allowed only to full Ss or
NPs. In Korean, the conjunction -ko ('and') combines only with verbal
categories, while -(k)wa ('and') combines only with nominal

Would anyone tell me of such a language? If you know of any source
for the data I am looking for or if you have such data, please let me know.
Please send responses directly to me.I will post a summary.

Thanks in advance.

Byong-Kwon Kim

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Message 3: Q: Agency in Narratives

Date: Fri, 26 Apr 1996 13:32:33 EDT
From: "Ana C. Ostermann" <>
Subject: Q: Agency in Narratives

A group of colleagues of mine and myself are investigating the thematic
roles -- agent, experiencer, benefactor, etc. -- in a corpus of letters.
We are wondering if anybody knows of anything that deals with
classification problems and criteria, and has any quantitative data on
that. Although our main concern is with life-story narratives, any
investigation that deals with thematic roles and the issues above are

Ana Cristina Ostermann
Program in Linguistics
The University Of Michigan
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