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Argument reversal and inferential relations. Argument reversal #1 – Inversion: (1)They have a great big tank in the kitchen, and in the tank are sitting.

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Presentation on theme: "Argument reversal and inferential relations. Argument reversal #1 – Inversion: (1)They have a great big tank in the kitchen, and in the tank are sitting."— Presentation transcript:

1 Argument reversal and inferential relations

2 Argument reversal #1 – Inversion: (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]

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 raging fever.

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.

5 Locative inversion requires no OP: (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]

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

7 Two types of noncanonical-word- order construction in English: 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. CWO All of these pots are sitting in the tank. cf. Preposing In the tank all of these pots are sitting.

9 Birner & Ward 1998: 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.

10 Table1. Preposed argument (Discourse- or Hearer-) Old Postposed argument (Discourse- or Hearer-) New Two arguments reversed Preposed argument no newer than postposed argument

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.

12 Discourse-status or hearer- status? How do we know it’s a relative constraint?

13 Corpus study: 1778 tokens of inversion 1290 with sufficient prior context to determine information status 714 tokens if inferrables are excluded (we’ll talk about them in a few minutes)

14 Table 2. 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

15 The only two cells that are not instantiated are those in which Discourse-New information precedes Discourse-Old information.

16 In contrast, H-new information followed by H-old information is felicitous: (5) Reopened after a summer siesta is the SMC Club, only it's not the SMC Club anymore. With renovations and an expansion of the old Videotech concept came a new name – the Kennel Club. [Au Courant, 10/4/83] (6) I had lunch at Marshall Field's yesterday, and you wouldn't believe who was there. Behind a cluster of microphones was Hillary Clinton, holding another press conference.

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

18 The vast majority of the tokens contain discourse-old information followed by discourse- old 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]

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.

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.

21 (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]

22 (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]

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...

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.

25 Recall Birner & Ward 1998: 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.

26 What about other argument- reversing constructions in English?

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

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.

29 Which is to say, 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.

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.

31 Again, it’s discourse-status, rather than hearer-status, which is relevant: (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]

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

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.

34 Syntactically, the two constructions are in complementary distribution: Passivization applies to transitives, while inversion does not Inversion occurs with intransitives and copular clauses, which do not passivize

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

36 Inferential relations in discourse The question at hand: What about those “inferrables”?

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”.

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

39 In inversion and passivization, inferrable information has the same distribution 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]

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]

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]

43 Inversion – inferrables and d-old: Table 5. 30 26 42 41 Evoked Inferrable Initial Final Evoked Inferrable

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

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

46 Recall Prince 1992: Hearer-old:Hearer-new: Discourse- old: Previously evoked (Non- occurring) Discourse- new: Not evoked, but known (Prince 1981’s ‘unused’) Brand-new

47 Does the status of inferrables as discourse-old entail that they are also hearer-old?

48 No – they can be postposed in existentials, hence are hearer-new: (14) a. There weren’t the funds necessary for the project. [=Abbott 1992, ex. 31a]

49 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]

50 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]

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

52 They can also be preposed in the same context: (15) a. The deadline was looming, and they had found significant support, but the funds necessary for the project they hadn’t yet found.

53 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. The parsonage he could tolerate, but the church itself was in terrible disrepair. c. If the farm is rented, the rent must be paid. If it is owned or mortgaged, the owner pays the taxes. Interest and payments on the principal the owner may find harder to pay.

54 To summarize: In preposing, inversion, and passivization, inferrable information has the distribution of discourse-old information. But in existentials, it has the distribution of hearer-new information.

55 This suggests inferrable information is treated as discourse-old but hearer-new. But this is the category Prince argues is non-occurring.

56 Re-defining “discourse-old”: The class of discourse-old information is information that is linked to information in the prior discourse – either by identity or by inference.

57 But notice that identity itself is an inferential relation: Establishing identity requires an inference. (16) 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]

58 Let’s refine our definition: 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.

59 Inferrables are discourse-old (linked to prior discourse) but hearer-new (not previously known to hearer)

60 Potential inferential relations: Part/whole Type/subtype Temporal precedence Possession Entity/attribute Spatial proximity

61 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.

62 Two problems: This obscures the fact that “evoked” is a subset of “inferrable” (via an identity inference) There are non-identity inferences that nonetheless result in hearer-old information

63 (17) a. In one of the drawers there was a bundle of old letters, a dozen or more, tied together with a bit of rotten string. They were addressed Thomas Willingdon, Jr. Esq. at the Cordova Theological Seminary, in an emotional, flowery handwriting ornamented with Spencerian curlicues which began in a neat correct flourish and ended in a splatter of ink. Across the face of the top letter was written in The Old Man’s handwriting, “not to be forgotten.” [L. Bromfield, The Farm, Grosset & Dunlap, USA, 1933, p. 262]

64 b. The house was particularly spacious. Set well back from the road, it was almost surrounded by wide lawns on which, each side of the house, grew a huge palm tree. Beyond the right-hand palm could be seen a clothes line. [A.W. Upfield, The Widows of Broome, 1950; Charles Scribner’s Sons reprint, New York, 1985, pp. 110-111] c. She got married recently and at the wedding was the mother, the stepmother and Debbie. [=12a]

65 Contrast with Haviland and Clark’s classic example of a bridging inference: (18) Mary took the picnic supplies out of the trunk. The beer was warm. [Haviland and Clark 1974]  No necessary inference from picnic supplies to beer

66 Elaborating inference vs. bridging inference: “The distinction is not based on the type of information inferred but rather what motivates the inference. If the inference is drawn in order to establish coherence between the present piece of text and the preceding text, then it is a bridging inference. If an inference is not needed for coherence, but is simply drawn to embellish the textual information, then it is an elaborative inference.” (Keenan et al. 1990:378-9)

67 Elaborating inferrable: got married  the wedding Bridging inferrable: picnic supplies  the beer

68 This distinction is similar, but not identical, to the distinction between “forward” and “backward” looking inferences. Identity inferences (as in the guy at the door  the idiot) involve a backward inference that involves a hearer-old entity and hence don’t fall into the same category as “bridging” inferences.

69 Being hearer-old, elaborating inferrables cannot appear postverbally in existentials: (19) a. In one of the drawers there was a bundle of old letters, a dozen or more, tied together with a bit of rotten string. They were addressed Thomas Willingdon, Jr. Esq. at the Cordova Theological Seminary, in an emotional, flowery handwriting ornamented with Spencerian curlicues which began in a neat correct flourish and ended in a splatter of ink. #There was the face of the top letter easily visible.

70 b. The house was particularly spacious. Set well back from the road, it was almost surrounded by wide lawns on which, each side of the house, grew a huge palm tree. #Behind a clothes line there was the right- hand palm. c. #She got married recently and there was the wedding in her hometown.

71 Hearer-old:Hearer-new: Discourse- old: Evoked: Identity/ Elaborating Inferrable (inferentially linked and known to hearer) Bridging 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 9 (Final!).

72 Triggering Inferences 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)?

73 The bridging inferrable may serve to trigger the inference, via either its form (e.g. a definite) or its positioning (noncanonical word order).

74 Use of a definite to trigger the inference: (20) Mary took the picnic supplies out of the trunk. The beer was warm. [=(18)]

75 Use of noncanonical word order to trigger the inference: (21) 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.


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