Grammatical titbit

Randy LaPolla r.lapolla at
Sun Sep 25 23:51:55 UTC 2011

This phenomenon might be related to what Knud Lambrecht talked about in this 1988 article:

Lambrecht, Knud. 1988. “There was a farmer had a dog: Syntactic amalgams revisited.” Proceedings of the 14th Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society. Berkeley: Berkeley Linguistics Society. 


On 19/09/2011, at 3:00 AM, <funknet-request at> <funknet-request at> wrote:

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>   1. Re: Grammatical titbit (Richard Hudson)
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> Date: Sat, 17 Sep 2011 20:18:49 +0100
> From: Richard Hudson <dick at>
> Subject: Re: [FUNKNET] Grammatical titbit
> To: funknet <funknet at>
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> That's interesting Tom. I must admit I hadn't noticed it either. I think 
> the examples you're trying with zero subject relatives are a red 
> herring, because your main point applies when the relative is inside a 
> subject NP:
> (1) The man I think stole my bike is over there.
> (2) **The man stole my bike is over there.
> But the explanation is surely quite simple: at the point just after 
> "man" where the speaker chooses between zero and who/that, the only 
> thing that's relevant is that the pronoun would NOT be subject of the 
> *next* verb, "think", which already has its own subject ("I"). In other 
> words, the pronoun would be just extractee, not subject or object, in 
> relation to "think". It's only further into the sentence that its 
> relation to "stole" becomes relevant. So the rule for using zero 
> pronouns (or whatever you want to call them) is that they're allowed 
> unless the understood pronoun would be subject of the first following verb.
> Does that make sense?
> Dick
> Richard Hudson
> On 16/09/2011 15:19, Tom Bartlett wrote:
>> Here's an interesting titbit I haven't seen picked up on before:
>> With mental processes as pseudomodals in relative clauses THAT can be omitted even when it is acting as Subject:
>> That's the man I think stole my bike.
>> *That's the man stole my bike.
>> My first thought was that this was simply because "gardenpathing" caused by the juxtaposition of Subject and Finite had been disrupted, but the same isn't true with modal adverbs:
>> *That's the man possibly stole my bike.
>> This doesn't seem to be down to the influence of the congruent use of the projecting verb either:
>> *That's John; I think stole my bike.
>> Does this jar with anyone's idiolect?  Or, conversely, is anyone happy with:
>> *That's the man stole my bike.
>> Is this possible in Northern English English?  I am tempted by other sentences such as:
>> ?You're the one told me to do it!
>> Any ideas?
>> All the best,
>> Tom.
> End of FUNKNET Digest, Vol 96, Issue 9
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