Literal-Minded

Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

FLoP Is Now Right-Node Wrapping

Posted by Neal on November 28, 2006

I’ve finally come up with a more suitably linguisticky-sounding name for what I’ve been calling “Friends in Low Places” coordinations, or FLoP coordinations for short. But first I have to mention the term given to coordinations like this one:

Adam likes, but Doug dislikes, peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches.

Instead of coordinating two noun phrases, or two verb phrases, or two of some other nice, neat category, this sentence coordinates two sequences of noun phrase plus partial verb phrase: Adam likes, Doug dislikes. The direct object that completes each verb phrase, peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches, is factored out and put at the end. For historical reasons, this kind of coordination is referred to as right-node raising (RNR). The original example of a FLoP coordination, as you will no doubt recall, is:

The whiskey drowns and the beer chases my blues away.

It resembles RNR in that here, too, two sequences of noun phrase plus partial verb phrase are coordinated (the whiskey drowns, the beer chases), followed by a direct object (my blues). The difference is that the second verb is a phrasal verb, chase away, which wraps around the direct object and produces the unusual lack of parallelism. Hence, my new name for the FLoP coordination: right-node wrapping (RNW).

I’ve written a short paper on RNW, which anyone who’s interested can access here. (In fact, even those who aren’t interested can access it there. Not that I’m expecting them to, but, you know, they could.) The analysis I lay out (in the categorial grammar framework) handles the RNW example mentioned above, as well as examples such as

wash, dry, and put the dishes away
upended and nearly tore a Suburban in half

but not examples such as

unwilling or unable to perform the tasks without injury
the uncle and coach of Rafael Nadal since he started playing tennis

all of which have been discussed here in the past. Should an analysis of RNW cover these cases, too? Or are they (or some of them, at least) a different phenomenon that looks like RNW on the surface? That, as we academics like to say, is beyond the scope of this paper!

7 Responses to “FLoP Is Now Right-Node Wrapping”

  1. Russell said

    Recently a professor emeritus who works on construction grammar in Berkeley has been pushing the name “shared completion” for RNR. Though I admit, “right node wrapping” is very cute term.

    Also, I know some people like to analyze RNR as a sort of parenthetical insertion (“niching”) construction (I think this is a way to “explain” it as “performance,” thus not part of the grammar.) The existence of intentional RNR, in the form of “not only … but also”, however, seems to contradict this. So you should probably get RNW with “not only”, though it might not be super easy to find it.

  2. […] Three More Right-Node Wrappings The latest additions to the list of “Friends in Low Places” coordinations (aka right-node wrapping)… […]

  3. […] back to FLoP coordinations (or as I now like to call them, right-node wrappings), these are less standard than gapping and those VP-coordinations where the subject is enveloped in […]

  4. […] likes, but Doug dislikes, peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches (a construction sometimes known as right node raising). There isn’t a gap where the direct object should be; there’s an actual direct […]

  5. […] may recall that I chose the name “right-node wrapping” for what I’d been calling “Friends in Low Places” coordinations because of […]

  6. Alacritas said

    Neal: I know this post is quite old, but would you happen to have that article you wrote on RNW? The link doesn’t work anymore (and I happen to be someone who’s interested haha).

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