[Ads-l] intrusive "of" intrudes further

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jun 12 23:03:41 UTC 2015


And here's the CNN clip from TV News Archive:

https://archive.org/details/CNNW_20150611_180000_CNN_Newsroom_With_Brooke_Baldwin#start/2670/end/2680

On Fri, Jun 12, 2015 at 10:53 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
>
> Ah, here we go:
>
> http://www.tout.com/u/FeliciaKrieg
> (2nd video down: "More from press conference" -- relevant bit starts
> at about 0:35)
>
> I hear it as: "I can't tell you how large of the area is that we've
> searched thus far."
>
> So CNN just left out the crucial "of".
>
> On Fri, Jun 12, 2015 at 10:35 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> >
> > FWIW, the CNN transcript has:
> >
> > http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1506/11/cnr.06.html
> > "You know, the situation is still fluid. And at this point, I can't
> > tell you how large the area is that we've searched thus far."
> > (Jennifer Fleishman, spokeswoman, New York State Police Department)
> >
> > I haven't found video of the news conference, but it should show up
> > soon on https://archive.org/tv.
> >
> >
> > On Fri, Jun 12, 2015 at 9:17 AM, Neal Whitman <nwhitman at ameritech.net> wrote:
> >>
> >> 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.]
> >>
> >> On 6/11/2015 3:11 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
> >>>
> >>>> On Jun 11, 2015, at 2:58 PM, Neal Whitman 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.
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>> 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
> >>>
> >>>> On 6/11/2015 2:47 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> >>>>>
> >>>>> New York State Police spokeswoman:
> >>>>>
> >>>>> "I cannot tell you how large of the area is we're searching in."

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