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Seminar on Information Structure and Word Order Variation Argument Reversal (Inversion & Passivization) Gregory Ward Northwestern University Universidade.

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Presentation on theme: "Seminar on Information Structure and Word Order Variation Argument Reversal (Inversion & Passivization) Gregory Ward Northwestern University Universidade."— Presentation transcript:

1 Seminar on Information Structure and Word Order Variation Argument Reversal (Inversion & Passivization) Gregory Ward Northwestern University Universidade de Santiago de Compostela Departamento de Filoloxía Inglesa 19 Xuño 2008

2 (1)They have a great big tank in the kitchen, and in the tank are sitting all of these pots. [Jeff Smith, Frugal Gourmet, 6/17/89] Argument Reversal Type #1: Inversion

3 Like preposing, inversion requires a salient OP — unless its preposed constituent is locative. (2) The Chief of Police has developed a viral infection and may need to take an extended sick leave. In even worse condition is the mayor, who has been out for the past several days with a very high fever. Inversion

4 Since the preposed PP is non-locative, an OP is required: (3)The Chief of Police has developed a viral infection and may need to take an extended sick leave. #In a complete rage is the mayor, who will have to cover for his absence. Non-Locative Inversion

5 Locative inversion requires no OP, but it does require a link (as with preposing): (4)There are three ways to look at East State Street Village, a low-income apartment complex in Camden. None of them are pretty views. To the west of the 23 brightly colored buildings flows the Cooper River, a fetid waterway considered one of the most polluted in New Jersey. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/7/84] Locative Inversion

6 What about the discourse-status and hearer- status of the constituents of an inversion? Inversion

7 Noncanonical-Word-Order Two types: a single noncanonically positioned constituent two noncanonically positioned constituents.

8 Inversions contain two noncanonically positioned constituents: (1)They have a great big tank in the kitchen, and in the tank are sitting all of these pots. Recall that preposings contain one noncanonically positioned constitutent: In that tank, you will find all of the lobsters Ø. Number of Constituents

9 Preposing moves familiar information to the front of the sentence. Postposing (there-sentences) moves unfamiliar information to the end of the sentence. When a single constituent is involved, the relevant information status constraint is absolute; when two arguments are reversed, the information status constraint is relative. Birner & Ward 1998

10 Preposed argument (1) (Discourse- or Hearer-) Old Postposed argument (1) (Discourse- or Hearer-) New Argument reversal (2) Preposed argument no newer than postposed argument Table 1

11 (1)a. They have a great big tank in the kitchen, and in the tank are sitting all of these pots. b.They have all of these pots in the kitchen, and #in a great big tank are sitting all of the pots. Inversion

12 For inversion, two questions arise: Is it discourse-status or hearer-status that is relevant? How do we know the constraint is relative as opposed to absolute? Inversion

13 Corpus study: 1778 tokens of inversion 1290 with sufficient prior context to determine information status 714 tokens if inferrables are excluded Birner 1994

14 30 0 0 100 5 6 438 30 105 H-old/D-old H-old/D-new H-new/D-new H-old D-old H-old D-new H-new D-new Initial Final Table 2

15 The only two cells that have no tokens are those in which Discourse-New information precedes Discourse-Old information. Inversion

16 In contrast, H-new information followed by H-old information is felicitous: (6)I had lunch at Macy’s yesterday, and you wouldn't believe who was there. Behind a cluster of microphones was Hillary Clinton, holding another press conference. Inversion

17 This becomes even clearer when you look only at discourse-status: 30 0 538 146 D-old D-new Initial Final D-old D-new Table 3

18 The vast majority of the tokens contain discourse-old information followed by discourse-new information: (7)“What’s Hot,” a magazine published by General Foods for children aged 4 to 14, is sent to households that are known to be responsive to ad promotions. The “message from the sponsor” is subtle, with brand names worked into activities such as games and quizzes. Accompanying the magazine are cents-off coupons. [Consumer Reports, 6/89] Inversion

19 Putting discourse-new information before discourse- old information results in infelicity: A:Hey, Bill, where’s the coffee grinder? Our guests will probably want some cappuccino after dinner. B:#On the kitchen counter is the coffee grinder. Inversion

20 Notice that you also get D-old/D-old and D-new/D-new tokens. But in the case of D-old/D-old tokens, the more recently mentioned (i.e., more familiar) information appears first. Inversion

21 D-O/D-O: (8) Yes, this is no ordinary general election. ‘Evans is a Democrat; Daley is a Democrat. Different Democrats have different points of view about the city of Chicago and its politics,’ Jackson noted. ‘The war between forces within the party continues, and within our coalition.’ Standing in the middle of it all is Jesse Jackson. [Chicago Tribune, 3/6/89] Examples

22 D-O/D-O: (9)a. Each of the characters is the centerpiece of a book, doll and clothing collection. The story of each character is told in a series of six slim books, each $12.95 hardcover and $5.95 in paperback, and in bookstores and libraries across the country. More than 1 million copies have been sold; and in late 1989 a series of activity kits was introduced for retail sale. Complementing the relatively affordable books are the dolls, one for each fictional heroine and each with a comparably pricey historically accurate wardrobe and accessories… [Chicago Tribune, 1/4/90] Examples

23 (9)b. Each of the characters is the centerpiece of a book, doll and clothing collection. The story of each character is told in a series of six slim books, each $12.95 hardcover and $5.95 in paperback, and in bookstores and libraries across the country.... #Complementing the relatively affordable dolls are the books, one for each fictional heroine... Examples

24 Thus, inversion – an argument-reversing construction – imposes a relative, rather than an absolute, requirement on the information status of its constituents: The preposed constituent may not represent information that is newer within the discourse than that represented by the postposed constituent. Inversion

25 Preposing moves familiar information to the front of the sentence. Postposing moves unfamiliar information to the end of the sentence. When a single constituent is affected, the constraint is absolute; when two arguments are reversed, it’s their relative information status that determines the ordering. Birner & Ward 1998, revisited

26 What about other argument-reversing constructions in English? Related Constructions?

27 The ball was hit by Sally. [CWO: Sally hit the ball.]  an argument-reversing construction Passives without by-phrases: The ball was hit.  no argument reversal Passives with by-phrases

28 Passives with by-phrases are subject to the same constraint as inversion: The initial element must represent information that is at least as familiar within the discourse as that represented by the final element. Passives with by-phrases

29 In other words, the subject NP must represent information that is at least as familiar within the discourse as that represented by the NP within the by-phrase. Passives with by-phrases

30 (10)a. The mayor’s present term of office expires Jan. 1. He will be succeeded by Ivan Allen Jr.... [Brown Corpus] b. Ivan Allen Jr. will take office Jan. 1. #The mayor will be succeeded by him. Passives with by-phrases

31 Again, it’s discourse-status, rather than hearer- status, that is relevant; consider a passive with H-N/H-O status: (11) A formula to supply players for the new Minneapolis Vikings and the problem of increasing the 1961 schedule to fourteen games will be discussed by National Football League owners at a meeting at the Hotel Warwick today. [Brown Corpus, discourse-initial] Passives with by-phrases

32 The discourse-status results for passives (excluding inferrables): 32 0 70 37 D-old D-new Initial Final D-old D-new Table 4

33 Inversion and passivization share a pragmatic constraint: The initial constituent must not represent information that is less familiar within the discourse than that represented by the final constituent. Inversion + Passivization: A Common Constraint

34 Syntactically, the two constructions are in complementary distribution: Passivization applies to transitives, while inversion does not. Inversion applies to intransitives and copular clauses, while passivization does not. Inversion vs. Passivization

35 Passivization and inversion represent distinct mechanisms for performing a single information- packaging function in different syntactic environments. Inversion vs. Passivization

36 So, what about those inferrables? Inferential relations in discourse

37 So far we’ve dealt with information that is either clearly discourse-old or clearly discourse-new, but along with Prince 1992, we’ve left unresolved the issue of information that is “inferrable”. Inferrable Information

38 That information which has not been explicitly evoked from the prior discourse but which can be inferred from previously evoked information. Inferrable Information

39 In inversion and passivization, inferrable information has the same distribution as discourse-old information. Inferrable Information as Discourse-Old Information?

40 (12)a.She got married recently, and at the wedding was the mother, the stepmother and Debbie. [conversation, 6/29/89] b. Booked into the lounge at the Fremont Hotel, Wayne and Larry did six shows a night, six nights a week for five years. It was an education that has “lasted up to this day.” In the audience were hecklers and brawlers. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/16/83] Examples

41 (13)a.After being closed for seven months, the Garden of the Gods Club will have its gala summer opening Saturday, June 3. Music for dancing will be furnished by Allen Uhles and his orchestra, who will play each Saturday during June. [Brown Corpus] Examples

42 b. California Democrats this weekend will take the wraps off a 1962 model statewide campaign vehicle which they have been quietly assembling in a thousand district headquarters, party clubrooms and workers’ backyards. They seem darned proud of it. And they’re confident that the GOP, currently assailed by dissensions within the ranks, will be impressed by the purring power beneath the hood of this grassroots- fueled machine. [Brown Corpus] Examples

43 30 26 42 41 Evoked Inferrable Initial Final Evoked Inferrable Table 5: Inversion Inferrables vs. discourse-old:

44 Collapsing discourse-old and inferrable: 139 0 1009 142 D-old D-new Initial Final D-old D-new Table 6: Inversion

45 Collapsing discourse-old and inferrable: 75 0 88 37 D-old D-new Initial Final D-old D-new Table 7: Passivization

46 Inferrable Information So, we can now classify inferrable information as discourse-old with great confidence. But what about hearer-status? Is inferrable information hearer-new or hearer-old?

47 Inferrable Information We have a diagnostic to help us decide: the post- verbal position of existential there-sentences is reserved for hearer-new information. (14)a.There weren’t the funds necessary for the project. [=Abbott 1992, ex. 31a]

48 Inferrable Information b. The audience did not think much of the new pastor, and what the new pastor thought of the audience he did not dare at the time to say. During the next weeks he looked over the situation. First of all there was the parsonage, an utterly impossible place for civilized people to live in, originally poorly conceived, apparently not repaired for years, with no plumbing or sewage, with rat-holes and rot. [Brown Corpus]

49 Inferrable Information c. If the farm is rented, the rent must be paid. If it is owned, taxes must be paid, and if the place is not free of mortgage, there will be interest and payments on the principal to take care of. [Brown Corpus]

50 Inferrable Information In a study of 149 existentials taken from the Brown A Reportage Subcorpus, a trained coder judged that in 38 (25.5%) of the tokens the postverbal NP represented inferrable information.

51 Let’s recap where we are: In preposing, inversion, and passivization, inferrable information patterns like discourse-old information. However, in existential there-sentences, it patterns like hearer-new information. Inferrable Information

52 This suggests inferrable information is discourse- old and hearer-new. But this is exactly the “empty cell” in Prince’s framework (which didn’t consider inferrables)! Inferrable Information

53 Hearer-old:Hearer-new: Discourse-old:Previously evoked Ø Discourse-new:Not evoked, but known Brand-new Prince 1992, revisited

54 We can account for inferrable information and solve the “empty cell” problem by extending our notion of discourse-old information to include information that is linked to information in the prior discourse. Redefining Discourse-Old

55 The link may be one of simple identity, which also requires an inference of sorts : (15)a.I told the guy at the door to watch out, but the idiot wouldn’t listen. [=Evans 1981, ex. 6] b. With a degree in Physical Education, Terri Lewis could be coaching a high school volleyball team. Instead, this ranch wife and mother has spent the last three years riding and roping with three other women.... [“Cowgirl Up!”, America’s Horse, 2005] Identity as an Inferential Relation

56 So, in summary, the class of discourse-old information is defined as information that is inferentially linked to information in the prior discourse. The inferential relation may or may not be one of identity. Redefining Discourse-Old

57 Inferrables are discourse-old (linked to prior discourse) but hearer-new (not previously known to hearer). Redefining Discourse-Old

58 Part/whole Type/subtype Temporal precedence Possession Entity/attribute Spatial proximity Some Inferential Relations

59 Hearer-old:Hearer-new: Discourse-old:Evoked (inferentially linked, and known to hearer) Inferrable (inferentially linked, and not known to hearer) Discourse-new:Unused (not inferentially linked, but known to hearer) Brand-new (not inferentially linked, and not known to hearer) Table 8: Final Version!

60 For a bridging inferrable, which is hearer-new, how does the hearer know to look for the inferential relation (rather than taking the entity to be brand-new)? Inducing Inferences

61 The bridging inferrable may serve to induce the inference, via either its form (e.g. a definite) or its position (noncanonical word order). Inducing Inferences

62 Use of a definite NP to induce the inference: (16) Mary took the picnic supplies out of the trunk. The beer was warm. Inducing Inferences

63 (17) Last night I went out to buy the picnic supplies. a.I decided to get beer first. b.Beer I decided to get first. c.I decided to get the beer first. d.The beer I decided to get first. Only (a) is ambiguous as to whether the beer is part of the picnic supplies. Inducing Inferences

64 Fin


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