Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Tue Jan 8 23:55:57 UTC 2002

---------- Forwarded Message ----------
Date: Monday, January 7, 2002 5:20 PM -0600rrom: Mary Elizabeth Collins
<lcollins at>
To: CFRNET discussion list <cfrnet at>
Subject: [cfrnet] Readiness programs for first-generation college aspirants

Here's a conversational gambit: Seems to me that there are fewer potential
funders now than a few years ago for programs that assist first-generation
college aspirants prepare for and succeed in post-secondary education.

---------- End Forwarded Message ----------

A-HA!  I finally find this construction in print (at least electronic
print).  I don't think the omission of the "to" (assist...prepare) is a
mere typo, because I notice the folks on NPR using constructions like this
all the time.  In most instances (though not in this one) the construction
could also be expressed as a "that" clause (with optional deletion of the
"that"), so that what looks at first glance like the omission of a "to"
might also be interpreted as an instance of an apparent journalese taboo
against EVER using "that" as a conjunction.  Here, though, it seems an
unambiguous case of extending the modal-like grammar of "help" to the
synonymous but (for me at least) nonmodal "assist."

Sorry I can't offer a citation for the ambiguous construction.  Every time
I hear it on my car radio, I make a mental note to remember it exactly
(since it would be bad form to grab a piece of paper and write it down
while also navigating through traffic), but by the time I get to work I've
forgotten it.

Has anyone else noticed this?  I presume the "that" phobia originated with
some style book somewhere, but I can't quite see a style book as the source
of true "modalization" such as we seem to have here.

Peter Mc.

                               Peter A. McGraw
                   Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
                            pmcgraw at

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