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Writting style and style of expression.

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Writting style and style of expression.

Postby pdh0224 » Wed Sep 08, 2004 2:55 am

Dear teacher,

I see him running there.

I hear students talking about how fit he seems.


Q : What do you think about the structure of the two sentences?

I think they could be analyzed in two different way.

#1, It is "S + V + O + C" structure.

I (S) see(V) him(O) running there (C).

I(S) hear(V) students(O) talking about how fit he seems(C).


#2, Those structure is "S+V+O"


I (S) see(V) him(O) running there.

I(S) hear(V) students(O) talking about how fit he seems.


Conclusively, The meaning is same whether the structure is #1 or #2. But I believe there is slight difference between two structure. That is, for example, If someone write "I see him running there" in a way as "S+V+O", the thing he want to specify is "him" and "running there" is inacidental information modifies it. When he write the sentence in a way as "S+V+O+C", he intends to express the action or the fact that "he run there". That is the main difference between two sentences. What do you think?


All the best, :)
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Postby Alan » Thu Sep 09, 2004 11:41 am

Yes, I think I see what you mean, but the semantic nuance is hardly sufficient to constitute a different structural analysis: in both cases, the participial phrase stands as a restrictive postmodifier to the object noun.
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Postby pdh0224 » Fri Sep 10, 2004 1:27 am

in both cases, the participial phrase stands as a restrictive postmodifier to the object noun.

**********************************************

Do you mean it is not a "S+V+O+C" structure?

As you know, I already questioned you about "restrictive and
nonrestrictive usage". I think if "running there" and "talking about..." modify the referent as an present participle, does "comma" need to be used before those? That is, "I see him" and "I hear students" are not unnatural semantically, aren't they?

I see him , running there.

I hear students , talking about how fit he seems.
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Postby Alan » Fri Sep 10, 2004 2:21 am

As stated previously, restrictive modifiers do not require commas, and commas are certainly not required in the sentences in question.

The structure is SVO, with the participial phrases as adjuncts to the object noun phrases.
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Postby pdh0224 » Fri Sep 10, 2004 4:08 am

Alan wrote:Yes, I think I see what you mean, but the semantic nuance is hardly sufficient to constitute a different structural analysis.



"I see him running there."

As I mentioned, The meaning of the sentence is same whether the structure is "S+V+O" or "S+V+O+C". Yes, the semantic nuance is so slight that it is analyzed to defferent structures.

But How about this?

I hear students talking about how fit he seems.

At the firt time, when I first read the sentence, I considered the structure as "S+V+O". I reconsidered about it because I think it can be applied to "S+V+O+C". At that moment, I realized the meaning of the sentence with structure "S+V+O" is odd. Let me explain you about the reason.

The main frame is this.

I(S) hear(V) students (O). "students" in the sentence means "studendts' words ". It is also a putative subjective of a present participle, which odd to me. "students' words talking about how fit he seems" is strange, isn't it?
That's why I thought the structure is "S+V+O+C".

What do you think?
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Postby Alan » Fri Sep 10, 2004 7:32 am

Yes, I do believe I see what you're getting at: if we can somehow show that the sentence

[1] I heard students talking about how fit he seems.

has differing semantic entailments from simple

[2] I heard students.

then we will reckon the phrase 'talking...seems' a complement rather than a postmodifier.

The problem is that it really doesn't differ in any significant way: when we say that we hear someone, we may be referring to any sound that that person, directly or indirectly, produces, from spoken words to rustling leaves caused by his/her footfall. In [1] we know that what we hear is words, but that is because of the use of the verb 'talk' and has nothing inherently to do with the meaning of the word 'hear'.

There are, therefore, no real grounds here for reckoning the participial phrase to be other than a structurally optional postmodifier.

As far as the question 'what kind of modifier?' is concerned, note, firstly, that to remove a restrictive clause or participial phrase from a sentence, even though it most often will leave an incomplete-sounding sentence, does not necessarily do so. In, for instance,

I have a brother who once served in India.

we could happily remove the relative clause and still leave the meaningful and sensible sentence

I have a brother.

Yet we still consider the relative clause restrictive, and therefore do not divide it off with commas, since it is still needed, effectively, to justify my mentioning of the brother: that is to say, the purpose of the sentence is presumed to be to communicate the fact that a brother of mine served in India, rather than to emphasize his existence. The addressee will infer from this that I probably have several brothers (or, at least, more than one), of whom however only one - the one here identified by the restrictive clause - served in India.

Compare this with

I have a brother, who once served in India.

The use of a nonrestrictive clause immediately changes the addressee's perception of the sentence to one in which the existence of my brother is deemed the main point, and the fact of his army service is of no more than passing interest. The addressee is likely to conclude from this that I have only one brother.

Note also that, in constructions involving verbs of perception (such as [1]), commas are not used (making the phrase technically 'restrictive'), even though the participial phrase is clearly functionally closer to a nonrestrictive.
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Postby pdh0224 » Sat Sep 11, 2004 2:16 am

Alan wrote:Yes, I do believe I see what you're getting at: if we can somehow show that the sentence

[1] I heard students talking about how fit he seems.

has differing semantic entailments from simple

[2] I heard students.

then we will reckon the phrase 'talking...seems' a complement rather than a postmodifier.

The problem is that it really doesn't differ in any significant way: when we say that we hear someone, we may be referring to any sound that that person, directly or indirectly, produces, from spoken words to rustling leaves caused by his/her footfall. In [1] we know that what we hear is words, but that is because of the use of the verb 'talk' and has nothing inherently to do with the meaning of the word 'hear'.

There are, therefore, no real grounds here for reckoning the participial phrase to be other than a structurally optional postmodifier..


That's great explaination! I see what you mean. As I read this part, I realize that a complement is something more than a postmodifier, which means a complement must have a connection with a main verb. And meanwhile, a modifier is just connected with a post/former referent specified by it.

ex) He made me (to be) a doctor.

The structure is "S+V+O+C". The main difference between a simple modifier and a complement is a main verb "made" influences the connection between "me" and "(to be) a doctor". That is, "a doctor" has relations not only with "me" but also with "made". The "made" match "me" with "(to be) doctor".
I believe that is major difference. The main condition making difference between a simple modifier and a complement is a relationship with a main verb.

Alan wrote:As far as the question 'what kind of modifier?' is concerned, note, firstly, that to remove a restrictive clause or participial phrase from a sentence, even though it most often will leave an incomplete-sounding sentence, does not necessarily do so. In, for instance,

I have a brother who once served in India.

we could happily remove the relative clause and still leave the meaningful and sensible sentence

I have a brother.

Yet we still consider the relative clause restrictive, and therefore do not divide it off with commas, since it is still needed, effectively, to justify my mentioning of the brother: that is to say, the purpose of the sentence is presumed to be to communicate the fact that a brother of mine served in India, rather than to emphasize his existence. The addressee will infer from this that I probably have several brothers (or, at least, more than one), of whom however only one - the one here identified by the restrictive clause - served in India.

Compare this with

I have a brother, who once served in India.

The use of a nonrestrictive clause immediately changes the addressee's perception of the sentence to one in which the existence of my brother is deemed the main point, and the fact of his army service is of no more than passing interest. The addressee is likely to conclude from this that I have only one brother..


I think "comma" is also an element of a structure. In this respect, a slight difference in a nuance is enough to change the structure because the main intention a writer want to expression will be different , depending on whether he uses a comma or not.

Alan wrote:Note also that, in constructions involving verbs of perception (such as [1]), commas are not used (making the phrase technically 'restrictive'), even though the participial phrase is clearly functionally closer to a nonrestrictive.


It is interesting. I think the sentence

[1] I heard students talking about how fit he seems.

is in the case of a "strictive clause", although it has to depend on a context. It is because the main context in the reading stuff is about his healthy condition. If the writer want to show us just him, the "deep structure" is a nonrestrictive, because the main point is just "him".
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Postby Alan » Sat Sep 11, 2004 9:09 am

I hope that this discussion has served to make one or two points a little clearer.

Do write in again, however, if further explanation is needed!
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