copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:57 pm

It's tempting to change terminology:

pragmatic markers, idioms, catenatives

baubles, bangles & beads.
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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by dante » Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:32 pm

Erik that was funny :)
2a. We're going over for drinks after work. ,

which usage both the above dictionaries class as adverbial, there seems to be no chance of a meaningful prepositional complement to reclaim.
That is why "over" is analyzed as intransitive preposition in this sentence Edwin. The division of prepositions to two classes: transitive and intransitive, according to whether they take a complement or not is quite useful and fits the actual usage of prepositions as verb complements. This way the notions of "phrasal verbs" and "prepositional verbs" that was earlier made to account for this construction was abandoned. The common prepositions like off, on, down, in etc which often combine with verbs to form a more or less idiomatic meaning, are this way syntactically divorced from it, and analyzed as separate syntactic constituent - prepositional complement.
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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:41 pm

Ah, at last I've understood.

A preposition is defined as:

A word (one of the parts of speech and a member of a closed word class) that shows the relationship between a noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence.

( http://grammar.about.com/od/pq/g/prepositerm.htm )

or

preposition [ˌprɛpəˈzɪʃən]
n
(Linguistics / Grammar) a word or group of words used before a noun or pronoun to relate it grammatically or semantically to some other constituent of a sentence

(Collins)

So provided we realise that 'intransitive prepositions' aren't necessarily prepositions at all, we're OK.

I could think of less confusing terms, though.
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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by Wizard of Oz » Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:17 am

Ed sed:

Ah, at last I've understood.
.. I am very happy for you Ed .. I hope the earth moved for you if only in a very small way .. I on the other hand did not understand when I had to study it and subsequently decided that my life did not hang in the balance for not knowing it .. however I cannot understand how anybody could try to exist without an intimate knowledge of Pinot Noir ..

WoZ raising a glass to you
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Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by dante » Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:50 am

I think Edwin said it with a bit of irony WoZ, you missed that part. We all have our passions, and from my perspective a passion for grammar is a nice one. Not that I don't like red wine :)
So provided we realise that 'intransitive prepositions' aren't necessarily prepositions at all, we're OK.
On the contrary Edwin, we are to understand words such as "over" in your sentence as prepositions. The fact that it doesn't sit well with how prepositions are defined in some dictionaries isn't relevant to me. We can still find a lot of dated terminology in dictionaries used in defining word classes.
The only thing we need to do here to make things clear and consistent in the categorization of prepositions is to understand that they don't necessarily need to be followed by nouns and that, like verbs, they can take different kind of complements or no complement at all. I don't see in which way it complicates matters if you can clearly say that the small words such as: in, down, up, on..etc are prepositions. Compare it with the traditional terminology where the same words can be categorized as prepositions or adverbs, or adverbials, adverbial particles etc. depending on a particular sentence, and tell me that such classification makes more sense to you.
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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:14 pm

I'm hoping that the next apostles at CGEL or wherever move to a more rational and consistent approach to word classes - than the present incumbents (and, I agree, in many cases, dictionary compilers) - Dante.

My favourite approach (to an approach?) is at https://www.sussex.ac.uk/webteam/gatewa ... pdf&site=1 .

With regard to prepositions, they are probably best divided into two subsets (with the same intercategorially polysemic members!):

the central usage: semantically defined, showing location, direction, time relations (as kids are taught them, eg on the table)

non-central usages: syntactically defined, showing obvious metaphorical (on top of the subject) to opaquely idiomatic (on fire) usages.

However, distributionally, it is necessary on this model to preserve the 'used before a noun or pronoun to relate it grammatically or semantically to some other constituent of a sentence' requirement. I hope CGEL soon gets back to this.

I've mentioned that some 'peripheral' adjectives (or is that 'peripheral adjectives'?) seem to fall down in that they don't modify (in any meaningful sense) the noun they're adjacent to, but specify or add information about context (a fake Picasso, a former president, a proud day, an utter fool). They're dangerously close to determiner (quantifier for utter) status. (At least some dictionaries now realise that lumping determiners with adjectives was erroneous.) And it is generally agreed that the main determining factor for adjective status is semantic - their property of adding description to the noun's referent - adjectives being a lexically defined rather than a structure-defined class. With prepositions, I agree with an article I've found that central (locational / directional / temporal) usages constitute a semantically-defined subset, but that non-central usages are too disparate and hard to define for this to be still the case: metaphorical and idiomatic usages make use of the (traditional) syntactic property of prepositions.

And I agree - you'd think WiZ would be an expert - Oz cab sauvs are a bit irony, and all the better for it.
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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by dante » Thu Jan 24, 2013 6:31 pm

Various uses of prepositions range on a scale from those where a preposition has a full semantic content to those uses where the preposition cannot be said to have any meaningful interpretation in the context. The prepositions used as part of idiomatic combinations with verbs most often do not have meaning they have when they are used literally and that led to their analysis as part of an ill-defined compound word category called "phrasal verb". To satisfy semantic considerations in analyzing prepositions, grammarians entangled themselves in a series of illogical conclusions, the most obvious one being the division of words such as up, down, in, on..etc into a several formal categories. Now, if we say: He came in, we will analyze the preposition as an adverb, but if we note the place as: He came in the house, "in" is no more an adverb, it transforms into a preposition. There is no explanation whatsoever why prepositions would be defined as words that are necessarily followed by a noun or pronoun, as noted in the definitions from dictionaries you quoted. In which way restricting this class of words to only those that take noun complements helps distinguishing them from other word classes? If you can come up with some explanation that would throw more light on the reasons behind such restrictive view of prepositions, I'll be glad to learn about it.
And it is generally agreed that the main determining factor for adjective status is semantic - their property of adding description to the noun's referent - adjectives being a lexically defined rather than a structure-defined class.
I agree that adjectives can be clearly distinguished from other word classes on the semantic basis, as descriptors or classifiers of the concept expressed by a noun. There are strong syntactic criteria too that can help further distinguishing them from other word classes.

I haven't read much about semantic classes of adjectives, but on the face of it those you mentioned sound fine as members of the class. Determiners is a function that serves the purpose of giving a reference of a noun, giving information about whether a particular noun denotes something we are familiar with, which one exactly, how many units of the same concept described by the noun we have in mind. Determiners identify a subset within the whole set that a specific noun denotes. The adjectives "fake" or "proud" do not do that in my view, they simply give a description of a noun.
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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:32 pm

I notice that you haven't risked giving a definition of preposition that you would accept, for me to shoot down.

However, it's easier to point out deviation from central adjectivalness - perhaps even adjectivalness per se - with at least the most peripheral of the 'non-central' adjectives, than try a comprehensive semanto-syntacto-morphological analysis of prepositionality:

gun

large gun (we are told more about an inherent property - the gun in question's size) (adjectival usage)

this gun (here, we are told nothing about an inherent property, rather pointed to 'a subset within the whole set that the specific noun denotes' as you nicely phrase it) (determiner usage)

fake gun (Here, the usage is totally different. We now have a different referent - something other than a gun. The noun is neither qualified nor singled out but given a different meaning. Fake neither tells us something extra about a gun nor points out a specific gun.)
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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by dante » Thu Jan 24, 2013 9:14 pm

I'll repeat that "fake" feels like a genuine adjective (genuine as opposed to fake) to me. In your post from a year ago you gave a nice analysis of different semantic classes of adjectives http://www.wordwizard.com/phpbb3/viewto ... =6&t=23523

At http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=me11 ... &q&f=false Elizabeth Coppock concentrates her research on whether or not the adjective is semantically predicative – is the adjective actually modifying the noun it seems syntactically connected to, or is there another explanation.

I see the point in this kind of analysis, it would be interesting to read more about this. Speaking off the cuff, I'd agree that there are classes of adjectives that denote an inherent property of the referent noun, and those that are "predicative", meaning that the adjective + noun sequence can be reinterpreted through a separate sentence/predication, where the adjective most often can be replaced by an adverb in such rendition. However, I don't see how this distinction makes these adjectives less members of the class, dissimilar to epithets or classifiers, which on the semantic grounds we take to be central members of the class.

I forgot to say earlier that these metaphorical extensions of the meaning of prepositions are very nicely explained in Lakoff & Johnson "Metaphors we live by". If I remember well they also touch upon this issue of adjectives which do not qualify the meaning of the noun in a strict manner.
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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:49 am

Yes - I'm saying I'm more convinced than ever that a pretty complete overhaul of the parts-of-speech approach is urgently needed.
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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by Wizard of Oz » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:29 am

Edwin F Ashworth wrote:Yes - I'm saying I'm more convinced than ever that a pretty complete overhaul of the parts-of-speech approach is urgently needed.
.. or deacademise the old system and prohibit the writing of PhD thesi on the topic of parts of speech .. no more Doctors of Syntax (Sin yes, Syn no) .. simple >> a preposition is a preposition is a preposition .. ipso facto if you see the word in in a sentence then it is a preposition .. the KISS principal should be mandatory when talking about parts of speech ..

.. as a sop to all those who cannot live without it, and to save withdrawal, an island will be purchased from the funds saved by the disbandment of all University Faculties dealing with syntax .. this island will be named Chomsky Island and for a small fee people will be able to stay/live/visit the island .. Chomsky of course will be expected to remain on the island as President for life .. no communication with the real world will be permitted .. those leaving the island will have to spend 2 weeks in quarantine to be sure that they have not returned old habits ..

WoZ back to basics
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Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:01 am

Gather ye wool tufts while ye may...
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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:35 am

Doesn't WiZ know that he's already living in the grammar capital of the world?

from http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1397 :

Syntacticians' hotels and bars
May 3, 2009 @ 8:06 am · Filed by Arnold Zwicky under Humor


A little while ago I posted here about the NP Hotel in Seattle, which inspired readers to suggest other syntactic establishments.

For instance, there's the Doctor Syntax Hotel (and bar) in Sandy Bay, Tasmania

« previous post | next post »

And while in Australia, don't forget to stay at the Grammar View Motor Inn, in lovely downtown Toowoomba. The perfect place to rest your head after a night at Doctor Syntax.

Though there are / were other local hotspots:

To Jan Freeman and Mark Liberman: I had this nagging feeling that I'd heard about Dr. Syntax before. So I allowed comments, to good advantage, as it turns out.

A somewhat longer version of the story, from David Denison:

From Coates, Richard. 2006. Names. In Richard M. Hogg & David Denison (eds.), A history of the English language, 312-51. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.316:

"Some particular name may be traditionally associated with one category of things. But it would be simplistic to regard a name-form as in itself (e.g.) a personal name. Dr Syntax was a character invented by the writer William Combe. His versified exploits were very popular in the early 1800s and a famous racehorse, twice winner of the Preston Gold Cup, was named after him. A pub in Preston bears the name of the horse."

As I wrote to Richard when the book was being put together, "There is or was [was, EA] a pub in Oldham called 'Dr. Syntax'. Certain friends never tired of pointing it out to me as somewhere I ought to go for a drink. (I never did.)"

I have a copy of the book (The Tour of Doctor Syntax in search of the picturesque - a poem), complete with coloured illustrations by Thomas Rowlandson. Also a couple of cuttings from our local Oldham paper about the pub. ...
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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:15 pm

Or, perhaps: "In search of the picaresque; being the sententious tale of everyday typesetting folk".
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Re: copulas and locatives; particles and intransitive prepositions

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:51 pm

Dante: 4 years ago, you wrote:

H&P classify "home" as [a] preposition, which view is obviously still not accepted widely in grammar literature ...

[in such expressions as I'm going home / Is Ted home yet?]

Have you found any signs that H & P have a few converts yet?
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