Another kind?

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue Nov 8 03:22:40 UTC 2005

The source was a local newsreader intro-ing a bit about a change in the
traffic laws making it easier to get a moving-violation traffic ticket in
Cranston, whether you lived there or were merely driving through.

On 11/7/05, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at> wrote:
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> Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject: Re: Another kind?
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> On Nov 4, 2005, at 8:19 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
> > "If you live _ or drive through Cranston, Rhode Island ..."
> (what's the actual source, wilson?)
> yes, still another kind. i have files on the following types:
> 1. equative/comparative -- "as good or better than"
> 2. superlative -- "one of the best, if not the best, student"
> 3. verb forms with modals -- "will and may already have finished"
> 4. infinitive/participle verb forms with adjectives -- "neither
> interested in nor willing to"
> 5. verbs/adjectives/nouns taking prepositions -- "wonder but never
> dare to ask"
> these are standardly seen as simple "failures of parallelism", but
> that way of talking about them assumes an analysis of these
> coordinations that seems natural and necessary to many people, but is
> in fact not the only way to think about them. (i plan to write this
> up for Language Log, but i'm now about 60 postings behind there, so
> maybe it won't hurt to say a bit here.)
> the usual view of coordination of non-clauses is that it's some kind
> of reduction of clausal coordination. on this view the source of
> wilson's example would have to be something like
> (If) you live Cranston or you drive through Cranston
> but the first clause here is ungrammatical, so the reduced
> coordination is, too. the grammatical version of the first clause
> would be
> you live in Cranston
> which would be a source for the (parallel) reduced coordination
> (if) you live in or drive through Cranston.
> here's an alternative view, prompted by a view of troublesome
> disjunctive subjects, like "you or he". i've posted about agreement
> with disjunctive subjects here and on LLog. the short story is that
> each disjunct calls for a person/number form for the verb -- "you"
> calls for "are", "he" for "is" -- and that different people respond
> to a resulting conflict in different ways (some allow no resolution,
> some go for the nearest determinant, some for 2nd person over the
> others, some accept more than one version). the key idea here is
> that in (at least some kinds of) coordination, each coordinated
> element places a requirement on some third, shared, element, and that
> conflicts can arise between these requirements.
> that's how i'm now looking at the five sets of phenomena above. in
> #3, for example, "will" calls for a base-form complement, while
> perefect "have" calls for a past-participle complement; there's a
> conflict, which for many people is resolved in favor of the nearer
> determinant. (for others, no resolution is possible, and the example
> is ungrammatical.)
> in wilson's example, "live" calls for a complement PP with "in" (or a
> few alternatives), while "drive" calls for a complement PP with
> "through" or some other Ps; tthe two sets of Ps do not overlap, so
> there's a conflict, which can be resolved in favor of the nearer
> determinant, or not resolved.
> on this way of looking at things, it would be possible for different
> types of coordination to differ as to how conflicts are resolved.
> that is, resolution could be construction-specific (as well as
> differing from person to person), and i believe that it is. in
> particular, resolution in favor of the nearer seems to be hugely more
> frequent in type #3 than in type #5.
> arnold

-Wilson Gray

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