Alan wrote:Yes, I think I see what you mean, but the semantic nuance is hardly sufficient to constitute a different structural analysis.
Alan wrote:Yes, I do believe I see what you're getting at: if we can somehow show that the sentence
 I heard students talking about how fit he seems.
has differing semantic entailments from simple
 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  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..
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..
Alan wrote:Note also that, in constructions involving verbs of perception (such as ), 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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