[Ads-l] intrusive "of" intrudes further

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Fri Jun 12 13:17:50 UTC 2015


I don't think I explained clearly what I meant when I wrote, "This is the first time in my recollection that I've seen it intrude into constructions where the 'how ADJ' is predicative rather than attributive."

Usually, I see these constructions in situations like "I don't know how big (of) a boat we'll need," where the AdjP "how big (of)" modifies "boat" (and appears in the strange AdjP-Det-N syntax that these constructions have). It's a little clearer if we leave the WH-phrase in situ:

	I don't know [we need [how big (of) a boat]].

But in JL's example, if we leave the WH-phrase in situ, and undo the relative-clause extraposition, we get

  
	I cannot tell you [[the area we're searching in] is [how large]].

The AdjP is the complement of "is", not a modifier of "the area we're searching in".

I'm inclined to call this a production error, a blend of the following:
	
	I cannot tell you [how large (of) an area we're searching in].
	I cannot tell you [how large the area is that we're searching in.]

Neal


On 6/11/2015 3:11 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: intrusive "of" intrudes further
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>> On Jun 11, 2015, at 2:58 PM, Neal Whitman <nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET> =
> wrote:
>> =20
>> This is the first time in my recollection that I've seen it intrude =
> into constructions where the "how ADJ" is predicative rather than =
> attributive.
>> =20
>> Neal
> I don't find it particularly odd.  Googling "I/You don't know how good =
> of an idea" or "...how big of a relief" or whatever produces scads of =
> hits that seem totally natural to me. Ditto, say, this very sequence as =
> it appears in "Beyond that I don't know how large of an area you have to =
> scour or what".  Or is there a condition that would rule out the example =
> below while allowing the ones above?  Is it the definite ("the area")?  =
> Maybe I'm missing something. =20
>
> LH
>> =20
>> On 6/11/2015 2:47 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header =
> -----------------------
>>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
>>> Subject:      intrusive "of" intrudes further
>>> =
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------=
> -----
>>> =20
>>> New York State Police spokeswoman:
>>> =20
>>> "I cannot tell you how large of the area is we're searching in."
>>> =20
>>> JL
>>> =20
>> =20
>> --=20
>> Dr. Neal Whitman
>> Lecturer, ESL Composition
>> School of Teaching and Learning
>> College of Education and Human Ecology
>> Arps Hall
>> 1945 North High Street
>> whitman.11 at osu.edu
>> (614) 260-1622
>> =20
>> =20
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-- 
Dr. Neal Whitman
Lecturer, ESL Composition
School of Teaching and Learning
College of Education and Human Ecology
Arps Hall
1945 North High Street
whitman.11 at osu.edu
(614) 260-1622

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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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