Literal-Minded

Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

Extreme Gapping

Posted by Neal on November 21, 2008

“I can’t believe you put up with me,” my wife said.

“Nor I you me,” I replied.

She burst into laughter. After all, it’s pretty funny to imagine that she might have trouble putting up with me.

Gapping is a kind of nonparallel coordination in which two clauses are coordinated, each having the same main verb, and the verb is omitted from the second clause. Here’s an example:

Jim ordered a milkshake, and Kim (ordered) a beer.

If the subject and direct object in the verbless clause are pronouns, we end up with the somewhat unusual case of an entire clause consisting of pronouns:

Jim: I love you.
Kim: And I (love) you.

But I’d never heard a gapping sentence with both a main verb and an embedded verb omitted in the second clause, until I heard myself saying

Nor (can) I (believe) you (put up with) me.

Have any of you encountered bilevel gapping in the wild?

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4 Responses to “Extreme Gapping”

  1. viola said

    Awwwe, sweet lovings expressed without verbs. :o)

  2. Ran said

    Not only can I not find any examples of bi-level gapping, but more generally, I can’t seem to find any examples of embedded-clause gapping.

  3. […] No need for her to take offense. After all, it’s well known between us that we are each other’s putter upper withers. […]

  4. […] erased. This is an example of a kind of coordination called gapping, which I wrote about in this post. So I’m expecting the last item in the coordination to be another clause with a gap instead […]

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