[Lingtyp] NP + PP construction

Suzanne Kemmer kemmer at rice.edu
Tue Sep 29 16:09:49 UTC 2020

I think there are different constructions involved here. 


Hands up!

Phones off. 

Shoulders out of your ears!  (Yoga teacher’s constant command)

And all the schoolroom commands I remember from grade school:

Pencils down. 
Books closed. 
Feet flat on the floor. 
Shoulders back. 

The command is for an unspecified simple manipulative action to be taken on a body part or other possessed item under direct control.  As Alex said, they have an exclamative flavor. 

The ‘missing’ verbs are interpreted with reference to known frames. 

There’s a version with simple motion actions, and in that case there is no patient:

Everybody to the front of the room!


Quick! Into the building!

To your positions!  

The other example is different.

Superman to the rescue!   isn’t hortative; it seems like a descriptive exclamation with an anticipated outcome. 

It seems similar in some respects  to:

[X] for the win.

_For the win_ is from gaming:  it expresses a choice that is expected to lead to victory.  It’s common in computer gaming, but I think I remember it from 
game shows like Hollywood Squares where a contestant would pick a person to answer a question.   

I feel like I’ve read about the hortative one before, I don’t know where; but the ‘anticipated outcome’ one , if I can call it that, is something I haven’t thought about before.  Maybe not a single construction.   _For the win_ can be exclamative, but originally it doesn’t seem to have been. 


> On Sep 28, 2020, at 4:00 AM, Martin Haspelmath <haspelmath at shh.mpg.de> wrote:
> It appears that the specific imperative-hortative meaning of the absence of the copula in a predlocative construction is a peculiarity of English (and maybe a few other European languages).
> If we ask a question about "any language", we must use comparative concepts, and clearly, Oceanic languages like Mwotlap and Teanu also instantiate the type "NP + PP" (as pointed out by Alex François). There don't seem to be any clear generalizations about this type, though.
> But what is the definition of "NP" (as a comparative concept)? That may also be problematic, as pointed out by Siva Kalyan, because some people use "DP" as a general term for nominal expressions. Since we cannot say "*Your hands in the air", one may want to say that the English construction is "N + PP", but what the exact boundaries of this English construction are would have to be determined (can personal pronouns be used? "you-all to the rescue!"?). Eventually, we might want to ask whether there are other languages with a predlocative construction whose subject cannot be modified and which lacks a copula.
> So this simple case again illustrates that we need to be very clear about our comparative concepts.
> Martin
> Am 26.09.20 um 02:41 schrieb Siva Kalyan:
>> In English, it would be more natural to say "Legs off the table!". Likewise "(*Your) hands in the air!". I.e., it is probably useful to distinguish N + PP from NP + PP (or rather, NP + PP from DP + PP, depending on your framework).
>> Siva
>>> On 21 Sep 2020, at 1:51 pm, JOO, Ian [Student] <ian.joo at connect.polyu.hk <mailto:ian.joo at connect.polyu.hk>> wrote:
>>> Dear all,
>>> I wonder if there has been any literature on the construction where there is no verb, but only an NP and a PP, such as:
>>> (1) Superman to the rescue!
>>> (2) Your legs off the table!
>>> Of course, not only in English, but in any language. I would appreciate your help.
>>> From Hong Kong,
>>> Ian
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> -- 
> Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at shh.mpg.de <mailto:haspelmath at shh.mpg.de>)
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