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Contd. Ellipsis

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Contd. Ellipsis

Postby Enigma » Sun Feb 07, 2010 7:47 pm

Postpositive positioning can have either a combinatory or segregatory meaning. In the following, they have the latter meaning, due to the conjunction or:

The presence of someone else in my house, boy or girl, was a scary thought.

I think this is the best option in any context, formal or informal.

1) Do you think the bold words are a reduced phrase, with the words 'whether it be/is' ellided?


Common sense confirms the meaning, combinatory or segregatory.

2) Why do you think the sentence directly above feels too reduced (assuming you agree)--as though it needs 'be it' or 'whether it be' before it, or possibly needs to be in predicative position (in the form of a relative clause: "which is either combinatory...")

Sorry to ask such a lengthy question!
What you see, yet can not see over, is as good as infinite. ~Thomas Carlyle
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 7:34 pm

Really posing one for saparris, eh???
Just wait: he'll bite.

Don't be sorry for the length, his response will bloviate
all over the place.
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Postby saparris » Mon Feb 08, 2010 7:50 pm

I'm still thinking........
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Postby saparris » Mon Feb 08, 2010 8:26 pm

Postpositive positioning can have either a combinatory or segregatory meaning. In the following, they have the latter meaning, due to the conjunction or:

The presence of someone else in my house, boy or girl, was a scary thought.

I think this is the best option in any context, formal or informal.

1) Do you think the bold words are a reduced phrase, with the words 'whether it be/is' ellided?


I think you could make a stronger case for the first sentence being reduced than the second. Since “boy or girl” does not modify the noun preceding it, one tends to mentally insert “whether it be” or something similar into the sentence.

In the second case, “formal or informal” could easily be considered simple adjectival modifiers of the word “context.”


Common sense confirms the meaning, combinatory or segregatory.

2) Why do you think the sentence directly above feels too reduced (assuming you agree)--as though it needs 'be it' or 'whether it be' before it, or possibly needs to be in predicative position (in the form of a relative clause: "which is either combinatory...")


In this sentence, although the modifiers follow the noun to which they are attached, I find myself rereading the sentence to make sure that “combinatory” and “segregatory” do indeed modify “meaning.” It would be clearer if the sentence read …“meaning, which is either….”

Does that mean that there is a reduced clause? Chomsky would contend that most sentences are reduced (I bought the blue car = I bought the car + the car was blue).

It all depends on where you draw the line on reduction versus simple modification.
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Postby Enigma » Mon Feb 08, 2010 8:43 pm

I agree, Sap. Thanks for your post. I'm especially impressed how you managed not to waffle, as is so easy when discussing something so arbitrary.

The question was based on a similar topic I was reading, and partaking in, about the correlative conjunction 'both...and.'

The topic discussed the different meanings it can have when placed after the noun to which it's attached.

If it is in postpositive position, for instance, the meaning can be segregatory or combinatory; the meaning is inferred by the context, which should be easy enough.

Pupils, both honest and clever, pass exams with flying colours.

This could be either combinatory or segregatory.

If we move this phrase to predicative position, however, the meaning can only be combinatory:

Pupils, who are both honest and clever, pass exams with flying colours.


I just thought it was quite an interesting conversation, don't you think (assuming you agree with this, of course)?
What you see, yet can not see over, is as good as infinite. ~Thomas Carlyle
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Postby saparris » Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:19 pm

Pupils, both honest and clever, pass exams with flying colours.

Pupils, who are both honest and clever, pass exams with flying colours.


I do find these types of verbal gymnastics fascinating.

For example, if you wrote "Both honest and clever students pass exams with flying colors [here, we pass exams without the u]," the placement of "honest and clever" suggests two very different student groups.

A nudge here, an adjustment there, and you have very different meanings.

No wonder people often misinterpret what they read!
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Postby Enigma » Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:31 pm

I do find these types of verbal gymnastics fascinating.



I'm glad I'm not the only one. Some--including Luke--may find us rather odd for showing an interest in this, so we must unite, stick together, and ignore passing comments about our unusual interests. I have the shield. You can hold sword.
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Postby Slava » Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:33 pm

Enigma wrote:
I do find these types of verbal gymnastics fascinating.



I'm glad I'm not the only one. Some--including Luke--may find us rather odd for showing an interest in this, so we must unite, stick together, and ignore passing comments about our unusual interests. I have the shield. You can hold sword.
Who've you got riding shotgun?
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Postby saparris » Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:45 pm

You can ride shotgun it you like. Are you in a subjunctive mood?
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Postby Enigma » Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:49 pm

I must be driving then! You have to chip in for petrol. It costs me an arm and a leg to fill up my 2 litre. No blood on the upholstery either!
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Postby saparris » Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:57 pm

I'll e-mail you an e-check, but don't deposit it until never.
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Postby Slava » Mon Feb 08, 2010 11:57 pm

Enigma wrote:I must be driving then! You have to chip in for petrol.
Petrol? You's a Kiwi, ain't cha?
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Postby Enigma » Tue Feb 09, 2010 4:40 am

Slava wrote:
Enigma wrote:I must be driving then! You have to chip in for petrol.
Petrol? You's a Kiwi, ain't cha?


Damn. I thought I was doing a good job of being an enigma. Yous had me at petrol, didn't ya?
What you see, yet can not see over, is as good as infinite. ~Thomas Carlyle
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Postby Enigma » Tue Feb 09, 2010 4:40 am

Slava wrote:
Enigma wrote:I must be driving then! You have to chip in for petrol.
Petrol? You's a Kiwi, ain't cha?


Damn, I thought I was doing a good job of being an enigma. Yous got me at petrol, didn't ya?
What you see, yet can not see over, is as good as infinite. ~Thomas Carlyle
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Feb 09, 2010 1:40 pm

It's not that I don't have the stomach.
It's too many years of having to try and pound
it into students who could care less.

Now I have better things to do with my time.

I won't fight you sword or shield. Go at it!
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