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Summary Details

Query:   Inversion in embedded clauses
Author:  Ming-Wei Lee
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Syntax

Summary:   - ---

I asked whether native speakers of English accept (2b) and (3b) as
stylistically marked variants of (2a) and (3a), or whether (2b) and (3b)
are plainly ungrammatical?

(2a) I wonder into which garden my mother went.
(2b) I wonder into which garden went my mother.
(3a) That is the garden into which my mother went.
(3b) That is the garden into which went my mother.

I received 15 replies. A few respondents cautioned that (in American
English) even (2a) and (2b) are stylistically marked because of the use
of pied piping. Some other respondents mentioned a contrast between (2b)
and (3b), so I think I had better list what each respondent/informant
said about each sentence in this summary. (16 informants' judgments are
listed here because two replies contain data from more than one informant
and one contains no judgment data.)

For (2b):
(1) 'sound fine ... seem a little less stylistically marked than the
non-extracted case ... sound even better if the inverted subject is heavy'
(2) 'ungrammatical, or at least very odd'
(3) 'plainly ungrammatical'
(4) 'ungrammatical ... one step beyond "stylistically odd"'
(5) 'cannot accept'
(6) 'borderline'
(7) 'odd'
(8) 'fine'
(9) 'impossible'
(10) 'a stylistic variant'
(11) 'distinctly strange to me, but not absolutely ungrammatical'
(12) 'I believe all of the types you are looking for are attested.
However, the pragmatics (or discourse function) of this construction make
a lot of examples that are constructed without any salient context sound
pretty weird'
(13) 'a little awkward, pretentious, perhaps archaic, and pseudo-literary
... not ungrammatical' (14) 'completely impossible'
(15) 'right out'
(16) 'not acceptable'

For (3b):
(1) Same as (2b)
(2) 'possible, as a means of expressing focus'
(3) Same as (2b)
(4) Same as (2b)
(5) Same as (2b)
(6) 'not at all acceptable'
(7) 'fine if somewhat marked'
(8) 'strange'
(9) 'OK if you make the inverted subject heavy'
(10) 'awkward and strained, though not ungrammatical'
(11) Same as (2b)
(12) Same as (2b)
(13) Same as (2b)
(14) 'conceivable (if we make "my mother" a bit heavier), though it
sounds like fancy literary style'
(15) 'marginally less bad'
(16) Same as (2b)

Many thanks for the replies.

Ming-Wei Lee
Anglia Polytechnic University, UK

LL Issue: 11.165
Date Posted: 26-Jan-2000
Original Query: Read original query


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