LINGUIST List 8.303

Sat Mar 1 1997

Sum: Tense in subordinate clauses

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  1. hiro-t, Tense in subordinate clauses

Message 1: Tense in subordinate clauses

Date: Fri, 28 Feb 97 12:23:01 JST
From: hiro-t <hiro-tias.tokushima-u.ac.jp>
Subject: Tense in subordinate clauses

Dear LINGUISTs,
 Last month I had a query on the list concerning English tense in 
subordinate clauses. Thank you very much for answering my prolonged 
questionaire about a month ago(Jan. 28). The following people responded
to my judgement test. I would express my sincere thanks to them.

 E. Wayles Brownes
 David Houghton
 Steven Schaufele
 Karen Davis
 James Thomas
 Royle Phaedra
 Geoffrey Sampson

 The original questions and the results are as follows. Please
forgive me for making many spelling mistakes. Figures in each slot
show the number of the persons who judged the relevant sentences. So,
the number of people is different.


- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- -------------------------------
 I am investigating the tense system of "_will_ in the main clause +
past(present) tense in the relative clause" and "_will_ in the
_if_/_beofore_ clasue." First, I would like to know the acceptablity
and the meaning of the "_will_ + past tense." Are the following
sentences acceptable, which is adapted from Depraetere(1996),_The
Tense System in English Relative Clauses: A Corpus-Based Analysis_
(Mouton de Gruyter)? And what is the meaning of them, i.e., is the
past tense in the relative clause viewed from the main clause or from
the present time? For example, if (1) is acceptable, when is _the day
before_, i.e., does _the day before_ mean yesterday(the day before the
present time(now)) or does it mean the day before the day a sit-in
protest will continue (the time veiwed from the main clause)? Please
put *, ? or OK into each slot for the acceptabilities and write the
interpretation you can understand (two or three, if any) from the
context.

 (1) a. ( OK:2/*1 ) Students of the engineering faculty will continue
a sit-in protest which began the day before. (Your interpretation is:
All agree that the day is before some time which was stated in the
previous sentence, i.e., the tense in the relative clause is viewed
not from the main clause.)
 b. (OK:2/?:2) Students of the engineering faculty will continue a
sit-in protest which will have begun/will begin/ begins the day
before. (Your interpretation is: the same as above.)

 (2) a. (OK:3/?:3) The bleeding will be caused by the cut she got
when he attacked her. (When is her getting the cut when being
attacked? Your interpretation is: most people agree that the cut is
eg. from yesterday's fighting. It ocuurred in the past time. If not, 3
people judge this sentence questioinable.)
 b. (OK:3/?:3) The bleeding will be caused by the cut she will
get/gets when he attacks her.
(When is her getting of the cut when being attacked? Your
interpretation is: the cut will be viewed from the present time, not
from the main clause.) It seems difficult to interpret these
sentences.

 (3) a. (OK:3/?:1 ) The governor will be an elderly man, and he will
have the clearest possible recollection of the British who came with
Colonel Younghusband forty-five years before. (Exactly when is the
coming (the time of forty-five years before) of the British? Your
interpretation is: the British's coming is viewed from some other time
than the main clause. All agree with this interpretation.)
 b. (OK:1/?:2/*2 ) The governor will be an elderly man, and he will
have the clearest possible recollection of the British who will have
come/will come with Colonel Younghusband forty-five years before.
(Some say that _will come_ is questionable.) (Exactly when is the
coming (the time of forty-five years before) of the British? Your
interpretation is: the same as above. Coming with C.Y. is not viewed
from the main clause.)
 c. (OK:all ) The governor will be an elderly man, and he will have
the clearest possible recollection of the British who came with
Colonel Younghusband forty-five years ago. (Exactly when is the
coming of the British? Your interpretation is: Coming with C.Y. was 45
ago.)

(J(4) Consultants saw that as significant because Siemens' PBXs offer
ISDN capabilities, so the IBM move in that direction makes is more
plausible that the companies can merge their PBX tecnology and
minimize disruption for customers. (OK:all )The new software will also
let IBM customers' telephones automatically identify the number from
whcih an incoming call originated. (When is the originating of an
incoming call? Your interpretation is: the call's originating is
viewed from the main clause. My conclusion from your opinions is that
viewing from the main clause comes from a close semantic relationship
between the main and relative clauses.)

 (5) (OK:2/?:1) Under the agenda of the anti-choice movement, there
will be absolutely nothing that the adoption option will be able to do
for the women who wanted an abortion, couldn't have one and died from
continuing the pregnancy. (Exactly when is the events shown in the
past tense in the relative clause? Are they before the present
time(now) or before the future time shown by the main clause? Your
interpretaion is: the three events are veiwed from the main
clause. They will happen after the present time and before the time of
main clause. )

 (6) a. (OK:2/?:1 ) A few scuffles will break out among the 600
students who were allowed into the hall before university ushers
locked the door. (Exactly when is the students' being allowed into
the hall? Your interpretation is: either before now or before the
events of the main clause, i.e., before the future events of locking
the door and scufling. )
 b. (OK:2/*:1) A few scuffles will break out among the 600
students who will have been/will be allowed into the hall before
university ushers locked the door. (Exactly when is the students'
being allowed into the hall? Your interpretation is: after now. )

 (7) a. (OK:all) You will meet a man who is wearing a blue coat.
 b. (OK:2/?:2) You will meet the man who is wearing a blue coat.
(7a means that a man will wear a blue coat. A man is in the future
time. 7b means either the man is in the present time or in the
future.)

 c. She will look uo with a busy smile at (OK:all) a / (OK:all)
the enormous figure who is clearing his throat impatiently. (The same
as above: _a_ indicates the event in the relative clause is in the
future, and _the_ shows either future or present event.)

 d. A left-wing student will seize the microphone but will be
quickly cut off by (OK:2/*:1)the ]/ (OK:2/?:1)an offcial whop cuts the
cord. (The same as above.)


 Second, please help me judge the following sentences about the
_will_ in the _if_/_before_ clause. Please put *, ? or OK in each
slot.
 (8) a. (OK:1/*:3 ) If you will be hungry, there is a hamburger in the 
refrigerator.
 b. (OK:1/*3 ) If you are hungry, there is a hamburger in the 
refrigerator.

 (9) a. (OK:3/?:1 ) If it will rain tomorrow, you should cancel the
date now.
 b. (OK:0/*4 ) If it rains tomorrow, you should cancel the date
now.

 (10) a. In order to see whether the baby will be a boy or a girl,
put the pregnant woman in the middle of a flock of wrens. The baby
will be a boy if they fly away in terror, because white boys stalk and
torture and kill them. If it (OK:all )will be a girl /OK:all( )is a
girl, they will cluster around singing, because girls grind grain and
scatter some for the wrens.
 b. In order to see whether the baby will be a boy or a girl, put
the pregnant woman in the middle of a flock of wrens. If the baby
(OK:all )will be a girl /(OK:all )is a girl, they will cluster around
singing, because girls grind grain and scatter some for the wrens. It
will be a boy if they fly away in terror, because white boys stalk and
torture and kill them.

 (11) a. [No context]. How long before (OK:all )you'll get here /
(OK:all )you get here?
 b. A: I'd like to come over and see you. Would eight in the
morning be OK?
 B: Now would be better. How long before (OK:all )you'll get
here / (OK:all ) you get here?

 (12) a. The fire would probably blaze and smoulder three or four
days before it (OK:all )would burn / (OK:all )burned itself out.
 b. The fire probably blazed and smouldered three or four days
before it (*:all )would burn / (OK:all ) burned itself out.
 c. Before the fire (OK:all )would burn / (OK:all )burned itself
out, it probably would blaze and smoulder three or four days.
 d. Before the fire (*:all )would burn / (Ok:all )burned itself
out, it probably blazed and smouldered three or four days.
 e. The fire will probably blaze and smoulder three or four days
before it (OK:all )will burn / (OK:all ) burns itself out
 f. The fire probably blazes and smoulders three or four days
before it (OK:2/?:2 )will burn / (OK:all ) burns itself out

 (12) a. Alex wondered how much longer it would be before he (OK:all
)would stand / (OK:all )stood so much alone and isolated that his
position in the bank would be untenable.
 b. Alex wondered how long it would be before he (Ok:all )would
stand / (OK:all )stood so much alone and isolated that his position in
the bank would be untenable.
 c. Alex wondered how much longer it was before he (?and*:all
)would stand / (? and *:all )stood so much alone and isolated that his
position in the bank was untenable.
 d. Alex wondered, before he (?:4 )would stand / (?:4/OK:1
)stood so much alone and isolated that his position in the bank would
be untenable, how much longer it would be.
 e. Alex wondered when his position in the bank would be
untenable before he (*:all )would stand / (*:all )stood so much alone
and isolated.

 (13) a. The Japanese are faced with problems which must be overcome
before they (OK:all
 )will be / (OK:all )are able to exert so strong an influence.
 b. Before the Japanese (*:2/OK:1 )will be / (?:2/OK:2 )are able
to exert so strong an influence, they are faced with problems which
must be overcome.
 c. The Japanese are faced with problems which are difficult to
solve before they (OK:2/*:2 )will be / (OK:all )are able to exert so
strong an influence.

 (14) a. [No context]. It is only a matter of minutes before he
(OK:all )will arrive / (OK:all
 )arrives.
 b. A: What's wrong with him? He's not here yet. Did you tell
him the exact time?
 B: Wait, wait, wait! It is only a matter of minutes before he
(?:2/OK:1
 )will / 
(OK:2/?:1 )arrives.

 (15) a. Despite Thalidomide's proven safety record, trilas of the
drug on humans were required in the United States before its sales
(OK:all )would be / (OK:all )were approved by the Food and Drug
Administration.
 b. Despite Thalidomide's proven safety record, before its sales
(OK:all
 )would be / ] (OK:all )were approved by the Food and Drug
Administration, trilas of the drug on humans were required in the
United States.
 c. Despite Thalidomide's unproven safety record, the drug was
tried on humans in the United States before its sales (OK:1/?:2/*:1
)would be / (OK:all )were approved by the Food and Drug
Administration.
 d. Despite the drug's proven safety record, trilas of it on
humans are required in the United States before its sales (OK:1/*:3
)will be / (OK:all )are approved by the Food and Drug Administration

 (16) a. At 1:40, twenty minutes before the meeting (OK:all )would
begin / (OK:all ) began, there was standing room only in the second
hall and new arrivals were still appearing.
 b. At 1:40, before the meeting (*:2/OK:2 )would begin / (OK:all 
)began, there was 
standing room only in the second hall and new arrivals were still appearing.
 c. Before the meeting (*:all )would begin / (OK:all )began,
there was standing room only in the second hall and new arrivals were
still appearing.
 d. At 1:40, twenty minutes before the meeting (OK:all )will
begin / (OK:all ) begins, there will be standing room only in the
second hall and new arrivals will still be appearing.
 e. There was standing room only in the second hall and new
arrivals were still appearing, twenty minutes before the meeting
(OK:all )would begin / (OK:all ) began at 1:40.
 f. There was standing room only in the second hall and new
arrivals were still appearing, before the meeting (*:all )would begin
/ (OK:all ) began at 1:40.
 g. There was standing room only in the second hall and new
arrivals were still appearing, before the meeting (*:all )would begin
/ (OK:all ) began.
 h. There will be standing room only in the second hall and new
arrivals will still be appearing, twenty minutes before the meeting
(*:all )will begin / (OK:all ) begins at 1:40.
 i. There will be standing room only in the second hall and new
arrivals will still be appearing, before the meeting (*:all )will
begin / (OK:all ) begins at 1:40.
 j. There will be standing room only in the second hall and new
arrivals will still be appearing, before the meeting (*:all )will
begin / (OK:all ) begins.

 Thanks a lot in advance. I am looking forward to your reply. -
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- ---------------------------------
 Thank you very much for your help. I will definitely not make
spelling and grammatical mistakes in my writing.

Best wishes,

Hiroaki Tanaka

Associate Professor,
1-1, Minamijousanjima-cho, Tokushima, 770, Japan
Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences,
Tokushima University, Japan

hiro-tias.tokushima-u.ac.jp
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