Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

Archive for the ‘Parasitic gaps’ Category

Lincoln’s Subordinate RNR

Posted by Neal on February 12, 2009

lincolnvc26p7I never realized that Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin shared a birthdate, but the fact has been inescapable for the past month or so, what with it being the 200th anniversary of that date, Feb. 12, 1809. The spotlight on Lincoln reminds me of something I noticed a month or so ago, when Doug wanted to learn about the (American) Civil War. I pulled out our three-pound, foot-wide set of the 1990 Ken Burns miniseries on VHS. (My birthday present from 1998.) On the first volume, as we listened to Sam Waterston reading parts of Lincoln’s first inaugural address aloud, this line caught my ear:

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.

Something was unusual about the last line. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Parasitic gaps, Syntax | 2 Comments »

Doug’s Parasitic Gap

Posted by Neal on February 10, 2009

underwear“Doug,” I said one morning, “You still have to put away this laundry.” He said okay and started with the socks and underwear, since you don’t have to worry about them getting unfolded when you stuff them into a drawer. He kept out one pair of socks, saying:

These, I just won’t put away because I’m gonna wear.

socksA sensible choice. Of course, I have to watch out for that slippery slope. Next he might leave out a pair of pajamas because he’s going to wear them tonight. And then a pair of jeans because he’s going to wear them tomorrow. Before you know it, the piles of folded laundry will become a clothes smorgasbord that lasts the whole week, like the one on the couch in Mom and Dad’s house when I was growing up. Anyway, while Doug put away the rest of his laundry, I had to write down what he said in my memo book: a topicalization with a parasitic gap in a finite clause.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Parasitic gaps, The darndest things | 3 Comments »