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zompist bboard • View topic - What do you call...

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 Post subject: What do you call...
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 4:48 am 
Avisaru
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Consider the bolded words in:

Far off I heard it: a telephoneme.
He told me this: all languages are derived from Basque.

These look very like anaphoric pronouns, except that they refer to something not yet mentioned rather than already mentioned. Are they still "anaphors", or something else like "cataphors"?


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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 5:37 am 
Boardlord
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They're pronouns. It's not at all difficult to get pronouns before their antecedent:

After she met the magician, Lynn was never the same.

He was a barbarian. He was a king. His name was Conan.

Did you see that? That's a new species!

So you can do it right, I'm going to have Max demonstrate firing a rifle.

I'd read all about him before I ever met Noam Chomsky.

Your examples are unusual in that the pronoun precedes its referent within the same clause. Or maybe it doesn't— one could argue that the colon introduces a new clause.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 6:38 am 
Sanno
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Yes, they're cataphoric pronouns. Although I'm sure there are other names as well.

I would note, however, that there's a potential difference between cases like:
After she ate, Lynne walked home
and those like:
I heard it: an octopus!
and those like:
He told me this: all cats are blue
and those like:
Did you see that? That was a new species!

The first two cases are plain cataphors. But they differ because the second presents the referent, while the first does not. The deixis of presenting objects to the attention can be different from normal textual deixis. This is even more the case with the third sentence here, which is not really a cataphor in the normal sense - instead, it's a textual ostensive. It's likely to work more like an ostension than an anaphor - as indeed it does in English ("this" rather than "it").
The fourth case has nothing to do with cataphor, it's just a plain ostensive. [the deixis is not to a later point in the text, it's to an external, present (or in this case recently present) object. It just happens to be co-referent with the deixis in the second clause.]


However, different languages care about distinctions in deictic space in different ways, and there's also a lot of variable terminology in how it's described.


[N.B. of Zomp's examples, only the third and fourth are unimpeachable for me - I'd have had red lines in school for the first and second, though I would use them, and I'd probably have had a '!' for the fifth, which I still wouldn't use. Just plain wrong. Not the worst, sure, but not something I'd feel comfortable saying. I don't, incidentally, know why the fourth is OK for me when the first isn't. I'm thinking that either I'm reading the deixis as external, or I'm reading "do it" as an intransitive? Not sure.]

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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 5:45 pm 
Smeric
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Only Zomp's fifth example doesn't work for me. His first and second are absolutely fine.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 6:37 pm 
Boardlord
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Oh come now. You might think you don't use these constructions, but I wager you would if you weren't thinking about it. Isolated sentences can look weird, especially if you're focusing intently on whether they are weird or not.

In case this was a British thing, I checked some British sites and easily found examples. (To be clear: these are the first sentences of the articles.) The rest of the examples below are from opening lines of novels.

---

From making their own games, to broadcasting live online, to playing professionally in packed stadiums – how entrepreneurs in their teens and twenties earn a living on video games.

Before filling in their birth certificate, parents want to know what first impression they are creating for their child.

Here she is - her name is Mary and she's a celebrity spider!

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.

She waited, Kate Croy, for her father to come in, but he kept her unconscionably, and there were moments at which she showed herself, in the glass over the mantel, a face positively pale with the irritation that had brought her to the point of going away without sight of him.

He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 8:57 pm 
Smeric
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Those are all fine and none of them are the same as the Chomsky example.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:34 pm 
Smeric
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Maybe he was talking specifically to Sal?


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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:54 pm 
Boardlord
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They're both British. Might be irrelevant, but the syntacticians I've been reading are American.

Kath, can you say what's wrong with the Chomsky example for you?


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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 4:51 am 
Smeric
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"him" has to refer to someone in the context, so forcing it to refer to Chomsky is jarring. And if Chomsky is the person in the context, then repeating his name sounds stilted.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:02 am 
Sanno
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I agree with Kath that none of those lines are troubling. [well, except the 'see them hitting' example, where the lack of clarification over 'them' may be a little galling, but the real issue is treating 'to hit' as though it could be intransitive. But I believe this is American sporting jargon of some sort?] [oh, and the first one is ambiguous as to who the certificate belongs to, but I don't think that's a related issue]

I'm not sure why the Chomsky example isn't troubling for you. How about if we make him the subject instead of the object?
!He'd read all about me before Noam Chomsky ever met me - is that still not troubling for you? Because it is to me.

Now interestingly, if we change the clause structure, that becomes OK for me:
Before he read about the frog, Noam Chomsky met me - fine. [added the frog because I don't like the repetition of 'me' here. Also matched the tenses to avoid that complication]]

Can we do the same thing with the object example?
?Before I read about him, I met Noam Chomsky - sort of. This feels like something I could say in certain contexts, but would feel uncertain about in writing. I think it's because of emphasis - I can make it work by emphasising the subordinate clause, but without that strong vocal emphasis it sounds like 'he' may be someone other than Chomsky.

So I guess there's at least two issues here - one about deranking and one about subjecthood or topicality. Both of these are often relevent to reference extraction, so that's not a great surprise.


---------------

Looking at your examples, we've got:
1. not sure what to call this, but this sort of title/subtitle newspaperspeak can allow all sorts of fragments to be topicalised like that
2. deranked determiner to a full noun, followed by a full noun in the matrix clause
3. ostension
4. deranked subject pronoun followed by matrix subject noun (followed by deranked pronoun)
5. matrix pronoun, no noun
6. copula
7. interjected topic
8. matrix pronoun, no noun

We can immediately dismiss 5 and 8, since they don't have the phenomenon at all. Likewise, 3 falls under the general rules for ostension. 6 is obviously no problem, it's a copula (specifically we don't need to crossreference between clauses here). 7 is an interjected topic, which is always ungainly and frowned upon in writing, but very common in speech. Of these, the only relevent examples are the second and the Garcia Marquez, and they seem perfectly well-formed to me - for the GM, the pronoun refers to the subject/topic, and the full noon is the subject in the main clause. The second is different because we're dealing with a determiner, not an actual pronoun.


----------

Going back to the subject thing, let's try these [and specifically, in each case, 'he' must be Chomsky]:
A: He ate lunch before Noam Chomsky fainted
B: He ate lunch before I met Noam Chomsky
C: The sheep bit him before Noam Chomsky fainted
D: The sheep bit him before I met Noam Chomsky

And then:
E: Before he ate lunch, Noam Chomsky fainted
F: Before he ate lunch, I met Noam Chomsky
G: Before the sheep bit him, Noam Chomsky fainted
H: Before the sheep bit him, I met Noam Chomsky

Evidently D is OK for you. But what about the others?

For me, A, B, C and D are clearly wrong. E and G are clearly fine. F and H are questionable - I'd say them in certain contexts with certain intonations, but I might raise an eyebrow seeing them on paper and they don't feel quite 'right'. Particularly H - F isn't 'quite right' but is cetainly better.

So for me, for pure cataphor to work, the pronoun has to be in the main clause and the full noun it links to must be in the deranked clause. And I'm uneasy about linking to any non-topic/subject in the the main clause, particularly when the pronoun itself isn't in subject position either.


While we're at it, let's try a different sort of deranking:
I: He asked me to remember Noam Chomsky
J: I asked him to remember Noam Chomsky
K: He asked me to let Noam Chomsky eat me
L: I asked him to let Noam Chomsky eat me

Again, these are all illegal for me (or rather, they're legal only so long at the pronoun DOESN'T link to Chomsky).

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But the river tripped on her by and by, lapping
as though her heart was brook: Why, why, why! Weh, O weh
I'se so silly to be flowing but I no canna stay!


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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:26 am 
Avisaru
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I agree with Sal re: validity of Noam Chomsky sentences, with one exception--I actually find H a little more cromulent than F. Not sure why; it's entirely possible it's just because I'd finished reading eight sentences about Noam Chomsky, so I was in the proper frame of mind to imagine him being bit by a sheep.

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I generally forget to say, so if it's relevant and I don't mention it--I'm from Southern Michigan and speak Inland North American English. Yes, I have the Northern Cities Vowel Shift; no, I don't have the cot-caught merger; and it is called pop.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:34 pm 
Smeric
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I agree with Aly there.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 2:49 pm 
Boardlord
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I'll mark these directly:

A: *He ate lunch before Noam Chomsky fainted
B: *He ate lunch before I met Noam Chomsky
C: *The sheep bit him before Noam Chomsky fainted
D: *The sheep bit him before I met Noam Chomsky

And then:
E: Before he ate lunch, Noam Chomsky fainted
F: ?Before he ate lunch, I met Noam Chomsky
G: Before the sheep bit him, Noam Chomsky fainted
H: Before the sheep bit him, I met Noam Chomsky

I: ?He asked me to remember Noam Chomsky
J: *I asked him to remember Noam Chomsky
K: *He asked me to let Noam Chomsky eat me
L: *I asked him to let Noam Chomsky eat me

and for reference
0: I'd read all about him before I ever met Noam Chomsky.

There's a kind of literary trope where authors avoid giving the referent for awhile, sometimes several sentences into their piece. That makes some of these more acceptable to me. A-D don't work partly because they're so mundane they don't trigger this trope.

(I) is possible if it's a report of Chomsky being bombastic— e.g. he explicitly said "You must remember Noam Chomsky." As an isolated sentence about a nonentity, it's bad: "*He asked me to remember John."


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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 9:29 am 
Smeric
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Sheep biting someone is mundane to you? Where do you live, Appalachia? ;-)
For the Chomsky sentences, the point seems clearly to be not mundanity, but whether the cataphoric pronoun is in a fronted subclause (legal) or in the main clause coming before the subclause (illegal).


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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 10:48 am 
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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:44 pm 
Smeric
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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 5:52 am 
Avisaru
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Going back to my original question, in:

The Prime Minister said this: she had full confidence in her Home Secretary.

is it correct to calll "this" a pronoun, even though it stands for something which is not a noun?


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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 9:14 am 
Sanno
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But the river tripped on her by and by, lapping
as though her heart was brook: Why, why, why! Weh, O weh
I'se so silly to be flowing but I no canna stay!


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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 3:44 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 5:15 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 12:59 am 
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I have the vague feeling the curt formulation is also a problem in Zompist's examples.

E-H are all dubious to unacceptable for me, yet these versions seem to work:

E1: Before he'd even eaten lunch, Noam Chomsky had fainted.
G1: Before the sheep had bitten him, Noam Chomsky had already fainted.
H1: It was before the sheep had bitten him that I'd met Noam Chomsky.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 3:16 pm 
Smeric
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I think Circeus is on to something concerning curtness. I' d have less problems with ten sentences or seven pages of cataphoric pronouns that would establish a basis for expecting that finally a name would be revealed, than with the short sentences A-D where no such expectation is established.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you call...
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2018 3:00 am 
Boardlord
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Yeah, it's not surprising... there are other cases where adding more stuff to a 'bad' sentence makes it acceptable.

An example from a very different construction. This even has a name, Heavy NP Shift.

*We consider unacceptable that.
*We consider unacceptable adultery.
We consider unacceptable the longstanding and outrageous support for Kebreni scholarship within the so-called faculty of the University of Verduria.


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