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The syntax of root clauses

2013/2014
Instructor: Anca Sevcenco [pitar_mosh@yahoo.co.uk]
Seminar 1
1.

Here is a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, Inversnaid:

This darksome burn, horseback brown,


His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.
A windpuff-bonnet of fawn-fro th
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, fll-frowning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.
Degged with dew, dappled with dew
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.
What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
There are many words in this poem whose meaning we dont know, but, surprisingly, establishing the
word class to which they belong is unproblematic. Determine the word class of each of the italicized
words in the poem, and give reasons for your choices.
2.
Determine which is the head of the following phrases: marvelously readable book, the
confusion of jargon, bitterly argue, kill the prey ruthlessly, in the bedroom, so slowly, seminal for
professionals, debunk prejudices with panache, mostly useless, a potentially libelous characterization,
extremely dazzling.
3.
Work out the constituency of the following sentences, using replacement, movement, clefting
and pseudoclefting tests. For replacement, try to use the following single words to replace sequences:
pronouns, one, this, these, that, those, forms of the verb do (sometimes these sound better if followed
by the words so or that), there, then.
(1) Anson shot the pterodactyl with his rifle in the jungle
(2) Julie and Fraser ate those scrumptious pies in Julies back garden.
(3) Michael abandoned an old friend at Mardi Gras
(4) In every club in London, people threw up their hands in the air
(5) We decided to paint the bathroom a lurid lime green colour.
(from Adger 2002: 78)
4.
Make up sentences which show whether the following pairs of constituents have the same
distribution. Remember that you are looking for judgements of grammaticality, so you might have to
come up with odd contexts to make the sentence acceptable. Once you have done this, hypothesise
which word is the head, and give a justification for your hypothesis. I have done the first one for you
as an example:

(1) on the boat; inside an egg


These do share distribution. The following examples suggest this:
(2) He wrote the book on the boat/inside an egg
(3) He put his money on the boat/inside an egg
(4) The chicken gestated on the boat/inside an egg
(5) I live on a boat/inside an egg
I hypothesise that the heads are on and inside respectively, since removing them results in a
completely different distribution.
(6) on the boat; there
(7) six shot glasses; drinking the absinthe
(8) coffee-flavoured; very interested in cocktails
(9) drank tequila; fond of tequila
(from Adger 2002:80)
7.

Read the following examples (from S. Pinker, The Language Instinct) and identify the phrases.
What is the source of the structural ambiguity that you can notice in these sentences?
(i)
(ii)
(iii)
(iv)
(v)
(vi)

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