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Re: Something for we to discuss!

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  • James Kane
    You do make some valid points about negation and tense, but I m still very unwilling to accept a _silent_ auxiliary. It s not just that I think it adds words
    Message 1 of 63 , Oct 6, 2013
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      You do make some valid points about negation and tense, but I'm still very unwilling to accept a _silent_ auxiliary. It's not just that I think it adds words that aren't there but also that it goes from simply saying 'use the bare stem of the verb in subjunctive subclauses' to 'use an inverted auxiliary that then disappears for no apparent reason'. It seems unnecessary and I don't think deductible from the syntax of the sentence.

      Anyway, here's some interesting usage I heard a friend say to another friend yesterday: 'did you make any friends at law school and they not get in?'. This is freshly picked from real world speech. I can't tell if that [not get] is a subjunctive, or if it's somehow borrowing the [did] from the start of the question, which English often does but seems weird in this instance as 'did you make any friends at law school and did they not get in?' is asking something else.

      James

      > On 6/10/2013, at 1:32 pm, And Rosta <and.rosta@...> wrote:
      >
      > R A Brown, On 05/10/2013 20:45:
      >> There are many points I could have responded to, but I confine myself
      >> just to those below. It seems we are still miles apart and not likely
      >> to agree. I think I will bow out of this thread (or at least try to)
      >> after this email and just agree that And and I differ.
      >
      > I do have responses I would gladly make to your points, but I understand that you'd prefer not to continue the discussion.
      >
      > James Kane, On 05/10/2013 23:03:
      >>> On 6/10/2013, at 7:19 am, And Rosta <and.rosta@...> wrote:
      >>>
      >>> Replying to James, Ray & Stevo:
      >>>
      >>> James Kane, On 03/10/2013 22:43:
      >>>>> And's analysis is just plain wrong; it's based neither on the
      >>>>> historical aspect nor on the actual system that's in place
      >>>>> presently and furthermore doesn't even fit.
      >>>
      >>> What do you think doesn't fit?
      >>
      >> I should have said that it's just plain wrong for my own speech. It
      >> is unfair for you to say you are analysing a specific dialect and
      >> then for people to say 'that's not how English does it!'.
      >
      > Which bits of your dialect doesn't it fit? (I'm genuinely interested.)
      >
      >> However I think that any dialectal analysis should relate to other
      >> dialectal analyses as much as possible, and should only differ where
      >> the dialects themselves differ.
      >
      > I agree with that on the whole.
      >
      >> As Ray said, it seems ridiculous to posit an auxiliary when talking
      >> about Occam's razor.
      >
      > You're measuring simplicity (or entity-multiplication) the wrong way (IMO). I guess you want to measure it by words per sentence? (Is that why the auxiliary is ridiculous? -- because it adds an extra word to the sentence?) I think you have to compare, above all, number of rules (including number of exception-stating rules), and then secondarily -- in cases where there isn't a difference in number of rules -- the degree of structural complexity assigned to a sentence.
      >
      >> _For me_, there is no way that 'do' or any other could find it's way
      >> into the sentence.
      >
      > Not an overt "do", no. But the one in question is covert, present in syntax but not in phonology.
      >
      >> Your analysis also doesn't fit with regards to negation. If there
      >> were an auxiliary, then not should be placed directly after it,
      >> meaning it would come before the subject.
      >
      > If "not" is inserted into "Does she like it", it follows the 'subject': "Does she not like it", and not "Does not she like it". Try a google books search for "Does she not" versus "Does not she". (Two hundred years ago "Does not she like it" appears to have been in regular use; twentieth century uses look to be archaizing and/or, under prescriptive
      > influence,avoiding contraction without repositioning the negation.)
      >
      > (If it were true that the normal form was "Does not she", then I would be analysing "that she (not) go" as "that she [do] (not) go", with the subject before the auxiliary.)
      >
      >> I'm also confused why the auxiliary should come before the subject as
      >> this is a rarer form in English.
      >
      > It's rarer but (IMO) structurally simpler. Compare, say, the nouns in "by foot" and "both father and son": it's rare for these nouns to occur bare without a determiner, but the determinerless version is (IMO) structurally simpler.
      >
      > The structural complexity of a phenomenon doesn't correlate particularly well with its frequency in usage.
      >
      >> To simply say 'the subjunctive looks like the infinitive and has no
      >> auxiliary' has the advantage that it preserves word order.
      >
      > Explain the preservation of word order bit?
      >
      >> Maybe the line between 'the subjunctive looks like the infinitive'
      >> and 'the bare stem is used in subjunctive sentences' is blurry, but
      >> using the term subjunctive neatly describes where this phenomenon
      >> will show up.
      >
      > What is the definition of a subjunctive sentence (or subjunctive clause, or whatever)?
      >
      >> That, along with the fact that it shows up in different tenses
      >> supports a view that, synchronically, happens to agree with the
      >> diachronic view.
      >
      > Does it show up in different tenses? In "that"-subjunctives, I see no evidence for tense. In conditionals, both if-conditionals and inversion-conditionals, subjunctivity seems to be associated with preterite tense only.
      >
      > In Ray's dialect, which allows "If she be not here" but not "If she do not go", there does seem to be a tense contrast, manifest inflectionally only with BE.
      >
      >> Again this is all for my speech, and the fact that this form is rare
      >> and more archaic or of a higher register and prone to replacement
      >> with a should+infinitive construction means I'm happy to talk about a
      >> subjunctive.
      >
      > What exactly does your dialect allow and not allow? (Let's discuss your dialect, and not get sidetracked by others.)
      >
      >> Wrt your explanation of the imperative, it does seem bizarre and
      >> _unnecessary_ to posit all the extra stuff. Imagine if I said that
      >> all indicative statements actually implied a circumfix: (all hail the
      >> dark lord Cthulu) I went for a run (no, just kidding).
      >
      > Yes, of course all that extra stuff requires a rationale, and positing it must yield a simpler grammar than not positing it does. Because it's inaudible it seems bizarre, and because the rationale's not given, it seems unnecessary. I could sketch a rationale, if you like, tho a full rationale would require a long series of articles that persistent shortage of time prevents me from writing.
      >
      >> Besides, for me, the forms 'you go there' and 'do go there' are valid
      >> (albeit with the second one a bit context dependent) but *'you do go
      >> there' isn't valid (for the imperative at least).
      >
      > That's right. The possibilities, with caps indicating phonologylessness, are:
      > "YOU do go"
      > "YOU DO go"
      > %"do you go" ("don't you go")
      > "do YOU go"
      > "DO you go"
      > "DO YOU go"
      > %"do somebody go" ("don't anybody go")
      > "DO somebody go"
      >
      > In other words, the 'uninverted subject' position, if present, can be occupied only by silent YOU, while the 'inverted subject' position can be occuped by silent YOU, unsilent YOU, or a quantified nominal.
      >
      > I appreciate that I haven't provided enough info for this analysis to be very persuasive, tho nor, I think, is it obviously wrong.
      >
      > --And.
    • And Rosta
      ... Aversion to positing items present in sentence syntax but not sentence phonology is widespread, even among grammarians, but I think that aversion has no
      Message 63 of 63 , Oct 6, 2013
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        James Kane, On 06/10/2013 19:55:
        > You do make some valid points about negation and tense, but I'm still
        > very unwilling to accept a _silent_ auxiliary. It's not just that I
        > think it adds words that aren't there but also that it goes from
        > simply saying 'use the bare stem of the verb in subjunctive
        > subclauses' to 'use an inverted auxiliary that then disappears for no
        > apparent reason'.

        Aversion to positing items present in sentence syntax but not sentence phonology is widespread, even among grammarians, but I think that aversion has no rational basis, being merely a kind of instinctual conservatism. If silent words are abundant then an unwillingness to accept a silent auxiliary here would not make much sense. The auxiliary doesn't "disappear for no apparent reason", since it doesn't disappear, but its silence is, like inflection in general, for no apparent reason: its failure to correspond to a chunk of sentence phonology is an arbitrary inflectional fact, like the alternation between _am_ and _are_, or the alternation between auxiliaries HAVE, BE, DO -- in English (and all languages) the inflectional correspondences between bits of sentence syntax and bits of sentence phonology are "without apparent reason".

        > It seems unnecessary and I don't think deductible from the syntax of
        > the sentence.

        Grammatical analysis is abductive rather than deductive; it proceeds by seeking, via leaps of the imagination, the simplest rule set that accounts for the observed facts. (It's kind of like science; I consider it one of the few remaining branches of natural philosophy.)

        > Anyway, here's some interesting usage I heard a friend say to another
        > friend yesterday: 'did you make any friends at law school and they
        > not get in?'. This is freshly picked from real world speech. I can't
        > tell if that [not get] is a subjunctive, or if it's somehow borrowing
        > the [did] from the start of the question, which English often does
        > but seems weird in this instance as 'did you make any friends at law
        > school and did they not get in?' is asking something else.

        That is a wonderful datum! I take it that it is simple coordination:
        Did {[you make any friends at law school] and [they not get in]}
        with the "and" within the scope of the interrogativity, so that, as you observe, the sentence is not synonymous with "Did you make any friends at law school and did they not get in", where the interrogativity is within the scope of the "and". I was thinking a lot about this construction earlier this year; it had seemed to me that, mysteriously, it was not grammatical, and I was racking my brains for an explanation for why on earth it should not be grammatical. Now your splendid datum liberates me from that brain-racking, since it demonstrates that the construction is in fact possible (as my theory so strongly predicted it should be).

        --And.
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