COMPOSITE SENTENCE AS A POLYPREDICATIVE CONSTRUCTION
§ 1.The composite sentence, as different from the simple sentence, is formed by two or more predicative lines. Being a polypredicative construction, it expresses a complicated act of thought, i.e. an act of mental activity which falls into two or more intellectual efforts closely combined with one another. In terms of situations and events this means that thecomposite sentence reflects two or more elementary
situational events viewed as making up a unity; the constitutive connections of the events are expressed by the constitutive connections of the predicative lines of the sentence, i.e. by the sentential polypredication.
Each predicative unit in a composite sentence makes up a clause in it, so that a clause as part of a composite sentence corresponds to a separate sentence as part of a contextual sequence. E.g.:
When I sat down to dinner I looked for an opportunity to slip in casually the information that I had by accident run across the Driffields; but news travelled fast in Blackstable (S. Maugham).
The cited composite sentence includes four clauses which are related to one another on different semantic grounds. The sentences underlying the clauses are the following:
I sat down to dinner. I looked for an opportunity to slip in casually the information. I had by accident run across the Driffields. News travelled fast in Blackstable.
The correspondence of a predicative clause to a separate sentence is self-evident. On the other hand, the correspondence of a composite sentence to a genuine, logically connected sequence of simple sentences (underlying its clauses) is not evident at all; moreover, such kind of correspondence is in fact not obligatory, which is the very cause of the existence of the composite sentence in a language. Indeed, in the given example the independent sentences reconstructed from the predicative clauses do not make up any coherently presented situational unity; they are just so many utterances each expressing an event of self-sufficient significance. By way of rearrangement and the use of semantic connectors we may make them into a more or less explanatory situational sequence, but the exposition of the genuine logic of events, i.e. their presentation as natural parts of a unity, achieved by the composite sentence will not be, and is not to be replaced in principle. Cf.:
I ran by accident across the Driffields. At some time later on I sat down to dinner. While participating in the general conversation, I looked for an opportunity to slip in casually the information about my meeting them. But news travelled fast in Blackstable.
The logical difference between the given composite sentence and its contextually coherent de-compositional
presentation is, that whereas the composite sentence exposes as its logical centre, i.e. the core of its purpose of communication, the intention of the speaker to inform his table-companions of a certain fact (which turns out to be already known to them), the sentential sequence expresses the events in their natural temporal succession, which actually destroys the original purpose of communication. Any formation of a sentential sequence more equivalent to the given composite sentence by its semantic status than the one shown above has to be expanded by additional elucidative prop-utterances with back-references; and all the same, the resulting contextual string, if it is intended as a real informational substitute for the initial composite, will hardly be effected without the help of some kind of essentially composite sentence constructions included in it (let the reader himself try to construct an equivalent textual sequence meeting the described semantic requirements).
As we see, the composite sentence in its quality of a structural unit of language is indispensable for language by its own purely semantic merits, let alone its terseness, as well as intellectual elegance of expression.
§ 2. As is well known, the use of composite sentences, especially long and logically intricate ones, is characteristic of literary written speech rather than colloquial oral speech. This unquestionable fact is explained by the three reasons: one relating to the actual needs of expression; one relating to the possibilities of production; and one relating to the conditions of perception.
That the composite sentence structure answers the special needs of written mode of lingual expression is quite evident. It is this type of speech that deals with lengthy reasonings, descriptions, narrations, all presenting abundant details of intricate correlations of logical premises and inferences, of situational foreground and background, of sequences of events interrupted by cross-references and parenthetical comments. Only a composite sentence can adequately and within reasonable bounds of textual space fulfil these semantic requirements.
Now, the said requirements, fortunately, go together with the fact that in writing it is actually possible to produce long composite sentences of complicated, but logically flawless structure (the second of the advanced reasons). This is possible here because the written sentence, while in the process of being
produced, is open to various alterations: it allows corrections of slips and errors; it can be subjected to curtailing or expanding; it admits of rearranging and reformulating one's ideas; in short, it can be prepared. This latter factor is of crucial importance, so that when considering the properties of literary written speech we must always bear it in mind. Indeed, from the linguistic point of view written speech is above all prepared, or "edited" speech: it is due to no other quality than being prepared before its presentation to the addressee that this mode of speech is structurally so tellingly different from colloquial oral speech. Employing the words in their broader sense, we may say that literary written speech is not just uttered and gone, but is always more carefully or less carefully composed in advance, being meant for a future use of the reader, often for his repeated use. In distinction to this, genuine colloquial oral speech is uttered each time in an irretrievably complete and final form, each time for one immediate and fleeting occasion.
We have covered the first two reasons explaining the composite sentence of increased complexity as a specific feature of written speech. The third reason, referring to the conditions of perception, is inseparable from the former two. Namely, if written text provides for the possibility for its producer to return to the beginning of each sentence with the aim of assessing its form and content, of rearranging or re-composing it altogether, it also enables the reader, after he has run through the text for the first time, to go back to its starting line and re-read it with as much care as will be required for the final understanding of each item and logical connection expressed by its wording or implied by its construction. Thus, the length limit imposed on the sentence by the recipient's immediate (operative) memory can in writing be practically neglected; the volume of the written sentence is regulated not by memory limitations as such, but by the considerations of optimum logical -balance and stylistic well-formedness.
§ 3. Logic and style being the true limiters of the written sentence volume, two dialectically contrasted active tendencies can be observed in the sentence-construction of modern printed texts. According to the first tendency, a given unity of reasons in meditation, a natural sequence of descriptive situations or narrative events is to be reflected in one composite sentence, however long and structurally complicated
it might prove. According to the second, directly opposite tendency, for a given unity of reflected events or reasons, each of them is to be presented by one separate simple sentence, the whole complex of reflections forming a multisentential paragraph. The two tendencies are always in a state of confrontation, and which of them will take an upper hand in this or that concrete case of text production has to be decided out of various considerations of form and meaning relating to both contextual and con-situational conditions (including, among other things, the general purpose of the work in question, as well as the preferences and idiosyncrasies of its users).
Observe, for instance, the following complex sentence of mixed narrative-reasoning nature:
Once Mary waved her hand as she recognised her driver, but he took no notice of her, only whipping his horses the harder, and she realised with a rather helpless sense of futility that so far as other people were concerned she must be considered in the same light as her uncle, and that even if she tried to walk to Boduin or Launceston no one would receive her, and the door would be shut in her face (D. du Maurier).
The sentence has its established status in the expressive context of the novel, and in this sense it is unrearrangeable. On the other hand, its referential plane can be rendered by a multisentential paragraph, plainer in form, but somewhat more natural to the unsophisticated perceptions:
Once Mary recognised her driver. She waved her hand to him. But he took no notice of her. He only whipped his horses the harder. And she realised that so far as other people were concerned she must be considered in the same light as her uncle. This gave her a rather helpless sense of futility. Even if she tried to walk to Boduin or Launceston no one would receive her. Quite the contrary, the door would be shut in her face.
One long composite sentence has been divided into eight short sentences. Characteristically, though, in our simplification we could not do without the composite sentence structure as such: two of the sentential units in the adaptation (respectively, the fourth and the sixth) have retained their compositive features, and these structural properties seem
to be indispensable for the functional adequacy of the rearranged passage.
The cited example of syntactic re-formation of text will help us formulate the following composition rule of good non-fiction (neutral) prose style: in neutral written speech each sentence construction should be as simple as can be permitted by the semantic context.
§ 4. We have emphatically pointed out in due course (see Ch. I) the oral basis of human language: the primary lingual matter is phonetical, so that each and every lingual utterance given in a graphic form has essentially a representative character, its speech referent being constructed of so many phones organised in a rhythmo-melodical sequence. On the other hand, and this has also been noted before, writing in a literary language acquires a relatively self-sufficient status in so far as a tremendous proportion of what is actually written in society is not meant for an oral reproduction at all: though read and re-read by those to whom it has been addressed, it is destined to remain "silent" for ever. The "silent" nature of written speech with all its peculiarities leads to the development of specifically written features of language, among which, as we have just seen, the composite sentence of increased complexity occupies one of the most prominent places. Now, as a natural consequence of this development, the peculiar features of written speech begin to influence oral speech, whose syntax becomes liable to display ever more syntactic properties directly borrowed from writing.
Moreover, as a result of active interaction between oral and written forms of language, a new variety of speech has arisen that has an intermediary status. This type of speech, being explicitly oral, is at the same time prepared and edited, and more often than not it is directly reproduced from the written text, or else from its epitomised version (theses). This intermediary written-oral speech should be given a special linguistic name, for which we suggest the term "scripted speech", i.e. speech read from the script. Here belong such forms of lingual communication as public report speech, lecturer speech, preacher speech, radio- and television-broadcast speech, each of them existing in a variety of subtypes.
By way of example let us take the following passage from President Woodrow Wilson's address to the Congress urging it to authorise the United States' entering the World War (1917):
But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts, — for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.
The text presents a typical case of political scripted speech with a clear tinge of solemnity, its five predicative units being complicated by parallel constructions of homogeneous objects (for-phrases) adding to its high style emphasis.
Compare the above with a passage from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's second inaugural address (1937):
In this nation I see tens of millions of its citizens — a substantial part of its whole population — who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life.
The sentence is not a long one, but its bookish background, although meant for oral uttering before an audience, is most evident: a detached appositional phrase, consecutive subordination, the very nature of the last appositional clausal complex of commenting type, all these features being carefully prepared to give the necessary emphasis to the social content of the utterance aimed at a public success.
Compare one more example — a passage from Bernard Shaw's paper read before the Medico-Legal Society in London (1909):
Nevertheless, trade in medical advice has never been formally recognised, and never will be; for you must realise that, whereas competition in ordinary trade and business is founded on an elaborate theoretic demonstration of its benefits, there has never been anyone from Adam Smith to our own time who has attempted such a demonstration with regard to the medical profession. The idea of a doctor being a tradesman with a pecuniary interest in your being ill is abhorrent to every thoughtful person.
The scripted nature of the cited sentential sequence is clearly seen from its arrangement as an expressive climax built upon a carefully balanced contrastive composite construction.
§ 5. We have hitherto defended the thesis of the composite sentence of increased complexity being specifically characteristic of literary written speech. On the other hand, we must clearly understand that the composite sentence as such is part and parcel of the general syntactic system of language, and its use is an inalienable feature of any normal expression of human thought in intercourse. This is demonstrated by cases of composite sentences that could not be adequately reduced to the corresponding sets of separate simple sentences in their natural contexts (see above). Fictional literature, presenting in its works a reflection of language as it is spoken by the people, gives us abundant illustrations of the broad use of composite sentences in genuine colloquial speech both of dialogue and monologue character.
Composite sentences display two principal types of construction: hypotaxis (subordination) and parataxis (coordination). Both types are equally representative of colloquial speech, be it refined by education or not. In this connection it should be noted that the initial rise of hypotaxis and parataxis as forms of composite sentences can be traced back to the early stages of language development, i. e. to the times when language had no writing. Profuse illustrations of the said types of syntactic relations are contained, for instance, in the Old English epic "Beowulf" (dated presumably from the VII с A. D.). As is known, the text of the poem shows all the basic forms of sentential composition including the grammatically completed presentation of reported speech, connection of clauses on various nominal principles (objective, subjective, predicative, attributive), connection of clauses on various adverbial principles (temporal, local, conditional, causal, etc.). E. g.:
* From: Beowulf/Ed. by A. J. Wyatt. New edition revised with introduction and notes by R. W, Chambers. Cambr., 1933, verses 590- 597.
Compare the tentative prose translation of the cited text into Modern English (with the corresponding re-arrangements of the word-order patterns):
Truly I say onto thee, oh Son Egglaf, that never would Grendel, the abominable monster, have done so many terrible deeds to your chief, (so many) humiliating acts in Heorot, if thy soul (and) heart had been as bold as thou thyself declarest; but he has found that he need not much fear the hostile sword-attack of your people, the Victorious Skildings.
Needless to say, the forms of composite sentences in prewriting periods of language history cannot be taken as a proof that the structure of the sentence does not develop historically in terms of perfecting its expressive qualities. On the contrary, the known samples of Old English compared with their modern rendering are quite demonstrative of the fact that the sentence does develop throughout the history of language; moreover, they show that the nature and scope of the historical structural change of the sentence is not at all a negligible matter. Namely, from the existing lingual materials we see that the primitive, not clearly identified forms of subordination and coordination, without distinct border points between separate sentences, have been succeeded by such constructions of syntactic composition as are distinguished first and foremost by the clear-cut logic of connections between their clausal predicative parts. However, these materials, and among them the cited passage, show us at the same time that the composite sentence, far from being extraneous to colloquial speech, takes its origin just in the oral colloquial element of human speech as such: it is inherent in the very oral nature of developing language.
§ 6. The two main types of the connection of clauses in a composite sentence, as has been stated above, are subordination and coordination. By coordination the clauses are arranged as units of syntactically equal rank, i. с equipotently; by subordination, as units of unequal rank, one being categorially dominated by the other. In terms of the positional structure of the sentence it means that by subordination one of the clauses (subordinate) is placed in a notional position of the other (principal). This latter characteristic has an essential semantic implication clarifying the difference
between the two types of polypredication in question. As a matter of fact, a subordinate clause, however important the information rendered by it might be for the whole communication, presents it as naturally supplementing the information of the principal clause, i.e. as something completely premeditated and prepared even before its explicit expression in the utterance. This is of especial importance for post-positional subordinate clauses of circumstantial semantic nature. Such clauses may often shift their position without a change in semantico-syntactic status. Cf.:
I could not help blushing with embarrassment when I looked at him. → When I looked at him I could not help blushing with embarrassment. The board accepted the decision, though it didn't quite meet their plans. → Though the decision didn't quite meet their plans, the board accepted it.
The same criterion is valid for subordinate clauses with a fixed position in the sentence. To prove the subordinate quality of the clause in the light of this consideration, we have to place it in isolation — and see that the isolation is semantically false. E.g.:
But all the books were so neatly arranged, they were so clean, that I had the impression they were very seldom read.→ *But all the books were so neatly arranged, they were so clean. That I had the impression they were very seldom read. I fancy that life is more amusing now than it was forty years ago. → *I fancy that life is more amusing now. Than it was forty years ago.
As for coordinated clauses, their equality in rank is expressed above all in each sequential clause explicitly corresponding to a new effort of thought, without an obligatory feature of premeditation. In accord with the said quality, a sequential clause in a compound sentence refers to the whole of the leading clause, whereas a subordinate clause in a complex sentence, as a rule, refers to one notional constituent (expressed by a word or a phrase) in a principal clause [Khaimovich, Rogovskaya, 278]. It is due to these facts that the position of a coordinate clause is rigidly fixed in all cases, which can be used as one of the criteria of coordination in distinction to subordination. Another probe of rank equality of clauses in coordination is a potential possibility for any •coordinate sequential clause to take either the copulative
conjunction and or the adversative conjunction but as introducers. Cf.:
That sort of game gave me horrors, so I never could play it. → That sort of game gave me horrors, and I never could play it. The excuse was plausible, only it was not good enough for us. → The excuse was plausible, but it was not good enough for us.
§ 7. The means of combining clauses into a polypredicative sentence are divided into syndetic, i. e. conjunctional, and asyndetic, i. e. non-conjunctional. The great controversy going on among linguists about this division concerns the status of syndeton and asyndeton versus coordination and subordination. Namely, the question under consideration is whether or not syndeton and asyndeton equally express the two types of syntactic relations between clauses in a composite sentence.
According to the traditional view, all composite sentences are to be classed into compound sentences (coordinating their clauses) and complex sentences (subordinating their clauses), syndetic or asyndetic types of clause connection being specifically displayed with both classes. However, this view has of late been subjected to energetic criticism; the new thesis formulated by its critics is as follows: the "formal" division of clause connection based on the choice of connective means should be placed higher in the hierarchy than the "semantic" division of clause connection based on the criterion of syntactic rank. That is, on the higher level of classification all the composite sentences should be divided into syndetic and asyndetic, while on the lower level the syndetic composite sentences (and only these) should be divided into compound and complex ones in accord with the types of the connective words used. The cited principle was put forward by N. S. Pospelov as part of his syntactic analysis of Russian, and it was further developed by some other linguists.
But the new approach to coordination and subordination has not been left unchallenged. In particular, B. A. Ilyish with his characteristic discretion in formulating final decisions has pointed out serious flaws in the non-traditional reasoning resulting first of all from mixing up strictly grammatical criteria of classification with general semantic considerations [Ilyish, 318 ff.].
Indeed, if we compare the following asyndetic composite
sentences with their compound syndetic counterparts on the basis of paradigmatic approach, we shall immediately expose unquestionable equality in their semantico-syntactic status. E. g.:
My uncle was going to refuse, but we didn't understand why.→ My uncle was going to refuse, we didn't understand why. She hesitated a moment, and then she answered him. → She hesitated a moment, then she answered him.
The equality of the compound status of both types of sentences is emphatically endorsed when compared with the corresponding complex sentences in transformational constructional paradigmatics. Cf.:
... →We didn't understand why my uncle was going to refuse. ... → After she hesitated a moment she answered him.
On the other hand, bearing in mind the in-positional nature of a subordinate clause expounded above, it would be altogether irrational to deny a subordinate status to the asyndetic attributive, objective or predicative clauses of the commonest order. Cf.:
They've given me a position I could never have got without them. → They've given me a position which I could never have got without them. We saw at once it was all wrong. →We saw at once that it was all wrong The fact is he did accept the invitation. → The fact is that he did accept the invitation.
Now, one might say, as is done in some older grammatical treatises, that the asyndetic introduction of a subordinate clause amounts to the omission of the conjunctive word joining it to the principal clause. However, in the light of the above paradigmatic considerations, the invalidity of this statement in the context of the discussion appears to be quite obvious: as regards the "omission" or "non-omission" of the conjunctive introducer the compound asyndetic sentence should be treated on an equal basis with the complex asyndetic sentence. In other words, if we defend the idea of the omission of the conjunction with asyndetic subordinate clauses, we must apply this principle also to asyndetic coordinate clauses. But the idea of the omission of the conjunction expounded in its purest, classical form has already been demonstrated in linguistics as fallacious, since asyndetic
connection of clauses is indisputably characterised by its own functional value; it is this specific value that vindicates and supports the very existence of asyndetic polypredication in the system of language. Moreover, many true functions of asyndetic polypredication in distinction to the functions of syndetic polypredication were aptly disclosed in the course of investigations conducted by the scholars who sought to refute the adequacy of coordinate or subordinate interpretation of clausal asyndeton. So, the linguistic effort of these scholars, though not convincing in terms of classification, has, on the whole, not been in vain; in the long run, it has contributed to the deeper insight into the nature of the composite sentence as a polypredicative combination of words.
§ 8. Besides the classical types of coordination and subordination of clauses, we find another case of the construction of composite sentence, namely, when the connection between the clauses combined in a polypredicative unit is expressly loose, placing the sequential clause in a syntactically detached position. In this loosely connected composite, the sequential clause information is presented rather as an afterthought, an idea that has come to the mind of the speaker after the completion of the foregoing utterance, which latter, by this new utterance-forming effort, is forcibly made into the clausal fore-part of a composite sentence. This kind of syntactic connection, the traces of which we saw when treating the syntagmatic bonds of the word, comes under the heading of cumulation. Its formal sign is often the tone of sentential completion followed by a shorter pause than an inter-sentential one, which intonational complex is represented in writing by a semi-final punctuation mark, such as a semicolon, a dash, sometimes a series of periods. Cf.-.
It was just the time that my aunt and uncle would be coming home from their daily walk down the town and I did not like to run the risk of being seen with people whom they would not at all approve of; so I asked them to go on first, as they would go more quickly than I (S. Maugham).
Cumulation as here presented forms a type of syntactic connection intermediary between clausal connection and sentential connection. Thus, the very composite sentence
(loose composite) formed by it is in fact a unit intermediary between one polypredicative sentence and a group of separate sentences making up a contextual sequence.
There is good reason to interpret different parenthetical clauses as specific cumulative constructions, because the basic semantico-syntactic principle of joining them to the initially planned sentence is the same, i. e. presenting them as a detached communication, here — of an introductory or commenting-deviational nature. E.g.:
He was sent for very suddenly this morning, as I have told you already, and he only gave me the barest details before his horse was saddled and he was gone (D. du Maurier). Unprecedented in scale and lavishly financed (£ 100,000 was collected in 1843 and 9,000,000 leaflets distributed) this agitation had all the advantages that the railways, cheap newspapers and the penny post could give (A. L. Morton).
If this interpretation is accepted, then the whole domain of cumulation should be divided into two parts: first, the continuative cumulation, placing the cumulated clause in post-position to the expanded predicative construction; second, the" parenthetical cumulation, placing the cumulated clause in inter-position to the expanded predicative construction. The inter-position may be made even into a pre-position as its minor particular case (here belong mostly constructions introduced by the conjunction as: as we have seen, as I have said, etc.). This paradox is easily explained by the type of relation between the clauses: the parenthetical clause (i. e. parenthetically cumulated) only gives a background to the essential information of the expanded original clause. And, which is very important, it can shift its position in the sentence without causing any change in the information rendered by the utterance as a whole. Cf.:
He was sent for very suddenly this morning, as I have told you already. → He was sent for, as I have told you already, very suddenly this morning. → As I have told you already, he was sent for very suddenly this morning.
§ 9. In the composite sentences hitherto surveyed the constitutive predicative lines are expressed separately and explicitly: the described sentence types are formed by minimum two clauses each having a subject and a predicate of „its own. Alongside of these "completely" composite sentences,
there exist constructions in which one explicit predicative line is combined with another one, the latter being not explicitly or completely expressed. To such constructions belong, for instance, sentences with homogeneous predicates, as wall as sentences with verbid complexes. Cf.:
Philip ignored the question and remained silent. I have never before heard her sing. She followed him in, bending her head under the low door.
That the cited utterances do not represent classical, explicitly constructed composite sentence-models admits of no argument. At the same time, as we pointed out elsewhere (see Ch. XXIV), they cannot be analysed as genuine simple sentences, because they contain not one, but more than one predicative lines, though presented in fusion with one another. This can be demonstrated by explanatory expanding transformations. Cf.:
... → Philip ignored the question, (and) he remained silent. ... → I have never before heard how she sings. ... → As she followed him in, she bent her head under the low door.
The performed test clearly shows that the sentences in question are derived each from two base sentences, so that the systemic status of the resulting constructions is in fact intermediary between the simple sentence and the composite sentence. Therefore these predicative constructions should by right be analysed under the heading of semi-composite sentences.
It is easy to see that functionally semi-composite sentences are directly opposed to composite-cumulative sentences: while the latter are over-expanded, the former are under-expanded, i. e. they are concisely deployed. The result of the predicative blend is terseness of expression, which makes semi-composite constructions of especial preference in colloquial speech.
Thus, composite sentences as polypredicative constructions exist in the two type varieties as regards the degree of their predicative explicitness: first, composite sentences of complete composition; second, composite sentences of concise composition. Each of these types is distinguished by its own functional specification, occupies a permanent place in the syntactic system of language and so deserves a separate consideration in a grammatical description.
CHAPTER XXVII COMPLEX SENTENCE
§ 1. The complex sentence is a polypredicative construction built up on the principle of subordination. It is derived from two or more base sentences one of which performs the role of a matrix in relation to the others, the insert sentences. The matrix function of the corresponding base sentence may be more rigorously and less rigorously pronounced, depending on the type of subordinative connection realised.
When joined into one complex sentence, the matrix base sentence becomes the principal clause of it and the insert sentences, its subordinate clauses.
The complex sentence of minimal composition includes two clauses — a principal one and a subordinate one. Although the principal clause positionally dominates the subordinate clause, the two form a semantico-syntactic unity within the framework of which they are in fact interconnected, so that the very existence of either of them is supported by the existence of the other.
The subordinate clause is joined to the principal clause either by a subordinating connector (subordinator), or, with some types of clauses, asyndetically. The functional character of the subordinative connector is so explicit that even in traditional grammatical descriptions of complex sentences this connector was approached as a transformer of an independent sentence into a subordinate clause. Cf.:
Moyra left the room. → (I do remember quite well) that Moyra left the room. → (He went on with his story) after Moyra left the room. → (Fred remained in his place) though Moyra left the room. → (The party was spoilt) because Moyra left the room. → (It was a surprise to us all) that Moyra left the room...
This paradigmatic scheme of the production of the subordinate clause vindicates the possible interpretation of contact-clauses in asyndetic connection as being joined to the principal clause by means of the "zero"-connector. Cf.: —» (How do you know) 0 Moyra left the room?
Needless to say, the idea of the zero-subordinator simply stresses the fact of the meaningful (functional) character of the asyndetic connection of clauses, not denying the actual absence of connector in the asyndetic complex sentence.
The minimal, two-clause complex sentence is the main volume type of complex sentences. It is the most important type, first, in terms of frequency, since its textual occurrence by far exceeds that of multi-clause complex sentences; second, in terms of its paradigmatic status, because a complex sentence of any volume is analysable into a combination of two-clause complex sentence units.
§ 2. The structural features of the principal clause differ with different types of subordinate clauses. In particular, various types of subordinate clauses specifically affect the principal clause from the point of view of the degree of its completeness. As is well known from elementary grammatical descriptions, the principal clause is markedly incomplete in complex sentences with the subject and predicative subordinate clauses. E.g.:
And why we descend to their level is a mystery to me. (The gaping principal part outside the subject clause: " — is a mystery to me".) Your statement was just what you were expected to say. (The gaping principal part outside the predicative clause: "Your statement was just — ")
Of absolutely deficient character is the principal clause of the complex sentence that includes both subject and predicative subordinate clauses: its proper segment, i. e. the word-string standing apart from the subordinate clauses is usually reduced to a sheer finite link-verb. Cf.: How he managed to pull through is what baffles me. (The principal clause representation: " — is — ")
A question arises whether the treatment of the subject and predicative clauses as genuinely subordinate ones is rational at all. Indeed, how can the principal clause be looked upon as syntactically (positionally) dominating such clauses as perform the functions of its main syntactic parts, in particular, that of the subject? How can the link-verb, itself just a little more than an auxiliary element, be taken as the "governing predicative construction" of a complex sentence?
However, this seeming paradox is to be definitely settled on the principles of paradigmatic theory. Namely, to understand the status of the "deficiently incomplete and gaping" principal clause we must take into consideration the matrix nature of the principal clause in the sentence: the matrix presents the upper-level positional scheme which is to be completed by predicative constructions on the lower level.
In case of such clauses as subject and predicative, these are all the same subordinated to the matrix by way of being its embedded elements, i. e. the fillers of the open clausal positions introduced by it. Since, on the other hand, the proper segment of the principal clause, i. e. its "nucleus", is predicatively deficient, the whole of the clause should be looked upon as merged with the corresponding filler-subordinate clauses. Thus, among the principal clauses there should be distinguished merger principal clauses and non-merger principal clauses, the former characterising complex sentences with clausal deployment of their main parts, the latter characterising complex sentences with clausal deployment of their secondary parts.
§ 3. The principal clause dominates the subordinate clause positionally, but it doesn't mean that by its syntactic status it must express the central informative part of the communication. The information perspective in the simple sentence does not repeat the division of its constituents into primary and secondary, and likewise the information perspective of the complex sentence is not bound to duplicate the division of its clauses into principal and subordinate. The actual division of any construction, be it simple or otherwise, is effected in the context, so it is as part of a continual text that the complex sentence makes its clauses into rheme-rendering and theme-rendering on the complex-sentence information level.
When we discussed the problem of the actual division of the sentence, we pointed out that in a neutral context the rhematic part of the sentence tends to be placed somewhere near the end of it (see Ch. XXII, § 4). This holds true both for the simple and complex sentences, so that the order of clauses plays an important role in distributing primary and secondary information among them. Cf.: The boy was friendly with me because I allowed him to keep the fishing line.
In this sentence approached as part of stylistically neutral text the principal clause placed in the front position evidently expresses the starting point of the information delivered, while the subordinate clause of cause renders the main sentential idea, namely, the speaker's explanation of the boy's attitude. The "contraposition" presupposed by the actual division of the whole sentence is then like this: "Otherwise the boy wouldn't have been friendly". Should the clause-order of the utterance
be reversed, the informative roles of the clauses will be re-shaped accordingly: As I allowed the boy to keep the fishing line, he was friendly with me.
Of course, the clause-order, the same as word-order in general, is not the only means of indicating the correlative informative value of clauses in complex sentences; intonation plays here also a crucial role, and it goes together with various lexical and constructional rheme-forming elements, such as emphatic particles, constructions of meaningful antithesis, patterns of logical accents of different kinds.
Speaking of the information status of the principal clause, it should be noted that even in unemphatic speech this predicative unit is often reduced to a sheer introducer of the subordinate clause, the latter expressing practically all the essential information envisaged by the communicative purpose of the whole of the sentence. Cf.:
You see that mine is by far the most miserable lot. Just fancy that James has proposed to Mary! You know, kind sir, that I am bound to fasting and abstinence.
The principal clause-introducer in sentences like these performs also the function of keeping up the conversation, i.e. of maintaining the immediate communicative connection with the listener. This function is referred to as "phatic". Verbs of speech and especially thought are commonly used in phatic principals to specify "in passing" the speaker's attitude to the information rendered by their rhematic subordinates:
I think there's much truth in what we hear about the matter. I'т sure I can't remember her name now.
Many of these introducer principals can be re-shaped into parenthetical clauses on a strictly equivalent basis by a mere change of position:
I can't remember her name now, I'т sure. There's much truth, I think, in what we hear about the matter.
§ 4. Of the problems discussed in linguistic literature in connection with the complex sentence, the central one concerns the principles of classification of subordinate clauses. Namely, the two different bases of classification are considered as competitive in this domain: the first is functional, the second is categorial.
In accord with the functional principle, subordinate clauses are to be classed on the analogy of the positional parts of the simple sentence, since it is the structure of the simple sentence that underlies the essential structure of the complex sentence (located on a higher level). In particular, most types of subordinate clauses meet the same functional question-tests as the parts of the simple sentence. The said analogy, certainly, is far from being absolute, because no subordinate clause can exactly repeat the specific character of the corresponding non-clausal part of the sentence; moreover, there is a deep difference in the functional status even between different categorial types of the same parts of the sentence, one being expressed by a word-unit, another by a word-group, still another by a substitute. Cf.:
You can see my state. → You can see my wretched state. →You can see my state being wretched. → You can see that my state is wretched. → You can see that. —»What can you see?
Evidently, the very variety of syntactic forms united by a central function and separated by specific sub-functions is brought about in language by the communicative need of expressing not only rough and plain ideas, but also innumerable variations of thought reflecting the ever developing reality.
Furthermore, there are certain (and not at all casual) clauses that do not find ready correspondences among the non-clausal parts of the sentence at all. This concerns, in particular, quite a number of adverbial clauses.
Still, a general functional analogy (though not identity) between clausal and lexemic parts of the sentence does exist, and, which is very important, it reflects the underlying general similarity of their semantic purpose. So, the functional classification of subordinate clauses on the simple sentence-part analogy does reflect the essential properties of the studied syntactic units and has been proved useful and practicable throughout many years of application to language teaching.
Now, in accord with the categorial principle, subordinate clauses аre to be classed by their inherent nominative properties irrespective of their immediate positional relations in the sentence. The nominative properties of notional words are reflected in their part-of-speech classification. A question
arises, can there be any analogy between types of subordinate clauses and parts of speech?
One need not go into either a detailed research or heated argument to see that no direct analogy is possible here. This is made clear by the mere reason that a clause is a predicative unit expressing an event, while a lexeme is a pure naming unit used only as material for the formation of predicative units, both independent and dependent.
On the other hand, if we approach the categorial principle of the characterisation of clauses on a broader basis than drawing plain part-of-speech analogies, we shall find it both plausible and helpful.
As a matter of fact, from the point of view of their general nominative features all the subordinate clauses can be divided into three categorial-semantic groups. The first group includes clauses that name an event as a certain fact. These pure fact-clauses may be terminologically defined as "substantive-nominal". Their substantive-nominal nature is easily checked by a substitute test:
That his letters remained unanswered annoyed him very much. → That fact annoyed him very much. The woman knew only too well what was right and what was wrong. → The woman knew those matters well.
The second group of clauses also name an event-fact, but, as different from the first group, this event-fact is referred to as giving a characteristic to some substantive entity (which, in its turn, may be represented by a clause or a phrase or a substantive lexeme). Such clauses, in compliance with our principle of choosing explanatory terminology, can be tentatively called "qualification-nominal"'. The qualification-nominal nature of the clauses in question, as is the case with the first group of clauses, is proved through the corresponding replacement patterns:
The man who came in the morning left a message. → That man left a message. Did you find a place where we could make a fire? → Did you find such kind of place?
Finally, the third group of clauses make their event-nomination into a dynamic relation characteristic of another, event or a process or a quality of various descriptions. In keeping with the existing practices, it will be quite natural to call these clauses "adverbial". Adverbial clauses are best
tested not by a replacement, but by a definitive transformation. Cf.:
Describe the picture as you see it. → Describe the picture in the manner you see it. All will be well if we arrive in time. → All will be well on condition that we arrive in time.
§ 5. When comparing the two classifications in the light of the systemic principles, it is easy to see that only by a very superficial observation they could be interpreted as alternative (i. e. contradicting each other). In reality they are mutually complementary, their respective bases being valid on different levels of analysis. The categorial features of clauses go together with their functional sentence-part features similar to the categorial features of lexemes going together with their functional characteristics as parts of the simple sentence.
Subordinate clauses are introduced by functional connective words which effect their derivation from base sentences. Categorially these sentence subordinators (or subordinating clausalisers) fall into the two basic types: those that occupy a notional position in the derived clause, and those that do not occupy such a position. The non-positional subordinators are referred to as pure conjunctions. Here belong such words as since, before, until, if, in case, because, so that, in order that, though, however, than, as if, etc. The positional subordinators are in fact conjunctive substitutes. The main positional subordinators are the pronominal words who, what, whose, which, that, where, when, why, as. Some of these words are double-functional (bifunctional), entering also the first set of subordinators; such are the words where, when, that, as, used both as conjunctive substitutes and conjunctions. Together with these the zero subordinator should be named, whose polyfunctional status is similar to the status of the subordinator that. The substitute status of positional subordinators is disclosed in their function as "relative" pronominals, i. e. pronominals referring to syntagmatic antecedents. Cf.:
That was the day when she was wearing her pink dress. Sally put on her pink dress when she decided to join the party downstairs.
The relative pronominal "when" in the first of the cited sentences syntagmatically replaces the antecedent "the day",
while the conjunction "when" in the second sentence has no relative pronominal status. From the point of view of paradigmatics, though, even the second "when" cannot be understood as wholly devoid of substitute force, since it remains associated systemically with the adverb "then", another abstract indicator of time. So, on the whole the non-substitute use of the double-functional subordinators should be described not as utterly "non-positional", but rather as "semi-positional".
On the other hand, there is another aspect of categorial difference between the subordinators, and this directly corresponds to the nature of clauses they introduce. Namely, nominal clauses, being clauses of fact, are introduced by subordinators of fact (conjunctions and conjunctive subordinators), while adverbial clauses, being clauses of adverbial relations, are introduced by subordinators of relational semantic characteristics (conjunctions). This difference holds true both for monofunctional subordinators and bifunctional subordinators. Indeed, the subordinate clauses expressing time and place and, correspondingly, introduced by the subordinators when and where may be used both as nominal nominators and adverbial nominators. The said difference is quite essential, though outwardly it remains but slightly featured. Cf.:
I can't find the record where you put it yesterday. I forget where I put the record yesterday.
It is easy to see that the first place-clause indicates the place of action, giving it a situational periphrastic definition, while the second place-clause expresses the object of a mental effort. Accordingly, the subordinator "where" in the first sentence introduces a place description as a background of an action, while the subordinator "where" in the second sentence introduces a place description as a fact to be considered. The first "where" and the second "where" differ by the force of accent (the first is unstressed, the second is stressed), but the main marking difference between them lies in the difference between the patterns of their use, which difference is noted by the chosen terms "nominal" and "adverbial". This can easily be illustrated by a question-replacement test: ... →Where can't I find the record? ...→ What do I forget?
Likewise, the corresponding subdivision of the nominal
subordinators and the clauses they introduce can be checked and proved on the same lines. Cf.:
The day when we met is unforgettable. → Which day is unforgettable? When we met is of no consequence now. → What is of no consequence now?
The firstwhen-раttеrn is clearly disclosed by the test as a qualification-nominal, while the second, as a substantive-nominal.
Thus, the categorial classification of clauses is sustained by the semantic division of the subordinators which are distinguished as substantive-nominal clausalisers, qualification-nominal clausalisers and adverbial clausalisers. Since, on the other hand, substantive nomination is primary in categorial rank, while qualification nomination is secondary, in terms of syntactic positions all the subordinate clauses are to be divided into three groups: first, clauses of primary nominal positions to which belong subject, predicative and object clauses; second, clauses of secondary nominal positions to which belong attributive clauses; third, clauses of adverbial positions.
§ 6. Clauses of primary nominal positions — subject, predicative, object — are interchangeable with one another in easy reshufflings of sentence constituents. Cf.:
What you saw at the exhibition is just what I want to know. → What I want to know is just what you saw at the exhibition. → I just want to know what you saw at the exhibition.
However, the specific semantic functions of the three respective clausal positions are strictly preserved with all such interchanges, so that there is no ground to interpret positional rearrangements like the ones shown above as equivalent.
The subject clause, in accord with its functional position, regularly expresses the theme on the upper level of the actual division of the complex sentence. The thematic property of the clause is well exposed" in its characteristic uses with passive constructions, as well as constructions in which the voice opposition is neutralised. E.g.:
Why he rejected the offer has never been accounted for. • What small reputation the town does possess derives from two things.
It should be noted that in modern colloquial English the formal position of the subject clause in a complex sentence is open to specific contaminations (syntactic confusions on the clausal level). Here is one of the typical examples: Just because you say I wouldn't have (seen a white elephant— M. B.) doesn't prove anything (E.Hemingway).
The contamination here consists in pressing into one construction the clausal expression of cause and the expression of the genuine theme-subject to which the predicate of the sentence refers. The logical implication of the statement is, that the event in question cannot be taken as impossible by the mere reason of the interlocutor's considering it as such. Thus, what can be exposed of the speaker's idea by way of "de-contaminating" the utterance is approximately like this: Your saying that I wouldn't have doesn't prove anything.
Another characteristic type of syntactic contamination of the subject-clause pattern is its use as a frame for an independent sentence. E. g.: You just get yourselves into trouble is what happens (M. Bradbury).
The cited contamination presents a feature of highly emotional speech. The utterance, as it were, proves to be a living illustration of the fact that where strong feelings are concerned the logic of lingual construction is liable to be trespassed upon. The logic in question can be rehabilitated by a substitution pattern: You just get yourselves into trouble, this is what happens.
As is known, the equivalent subject-clausal function can be expressed by the construction with an anticipatory pronoun (mostly the anticipatory it). This form of expression, emphasising the rheme-clause of the sentence, at the same time presents the information of the subject clause in a semantically stronger position than the one before the verb. Therefore the anticipatory construction is preferred in cases when the content of the subject clause is not to be wholly overbalanced or suppressed by the predicate of the sentence. E. g.: How he managed to pull through is a miracle. —» It is a miracle how he managed to pull through.
Some scholars analyse the clause introduced by the anticipatory construction as presenting two possibilities of interpretation which stand in opposition to each other. Accord-ing to the first and more traditional view, this is just a subject clause introduced by the anticipatory it, while in the light of the second, the clause introduced by it is appositive,
In our opinion, the latter explanation is quite rational; however, it cannot be understood as contrary to the "anticipatory" theory. Indeed, the appositive type of connection between the introducer it and the introduced clause is proved by the very equivalent transformation of the non-anticipatory construction into the anticipatory one; but the exposition of the appositive character of the clause does not make the antecedent it into something different from an introductory pronominal element. Thus, the interpretation of the subject clause referring to the introducer it as appositive, in fact, simply explains the type of syntactic connection underlying the anticipatory formula.
The predicative clause, in conformity with the predicative position as such, performs the function of the nominal part of the predicate, i. e. the part adjoining the link-verb. The link-verb is mostly expressed by the pure link be, not infrequently we find here also the specifying links seem and look; the use of other specifying links is occasional. E. g.:
The trouble is that I don't know Fanny personally. The question is why the decision on the suggested innovation is still delayed. The difficulty seems how we shall get in touch with the chief before the conference. After all those years of travelling abroad, John has become what you would call a man of will and experience.
Besides the conjunctive substitutes, the predicative clause, the same as other nominal clauses, can be introduced by some conjunctions (that, whether, as if, as though). The predicative clause introduced by the conjunctions as if, as though has an adverbial force, which is easily shown by contrast: She looks as though she has never met him. → She behaves as though she has never met him.
While considering subordinate clauses relating to the finite be in the principal clause, care should be taken to strictly discriminate between the linking and non-linking (notional) representations of the verb. Indeed, the linking be is naturally followed by a predicative clause, while the notional be, featuring verbal semantics of existence, cannot join a predicative. Cf.:
It's because he's weak that he needs me. This was because, he had just arrived.
The cited sentences have been shown by B. A. Ilyish as examples of predicative clauses having a non-conventional
nominal-clause conjunction (Ilyish, 276-2771. However, the analysis suggested by the scholar is hardly acceptable, since the introducing be in both examples does not belong to the class of links.
The predicative clause in a minimal complex sentence regularly expresses its rheme. Therefore there is an essential informative difference between the two functional uses of a categorially similar nominal clause: that of the predicative and that of the subject. Cf.:
The impression is that he is quite competent. That he is quite competent is the impression.
The second sentence (of an occasional status, with a sentence-stress on the link-verb), as different from the first, suggests an implication of a situational antithesis: the impression may be called in question, or it may be contrasted against another trait of the person not so agreeable as the one mentioned, etc.
The same holds true of complex sentences featuring subordinate clauses in both subject and predicative positions. Cf.:
How she gets there is what's troubling me (→ I am troubled). What's troubling me is how she gets there (→ How is she to get there?).
The peculiar structure of this type of sentence, where two nominal clauses are connected by a short link making up all the outer composition of the principal clause, suggests the scheme of a balance. For the sake of convenient terminological discrimination, the sentence may be so called — a "complex balance".
The third type of clauses considered under the heading of clauses of primary nominal positions are object clauses.
The object clause denotes an object-situation of the process expressed by the verbal constituent of the principal clause.
The object position is a strong substantive position in the sentence. In terms of clausal relations it means that the substantivising force of the genuine object-clause derivation is a strongly pronounced nominal clause-type derivation. This is revealed, in particular, by the fact that object clauses can be introduced not only non-prepositionally, but also, if not so freely, prepositionally. Cf.;
They will accept with grace whatever he may offer. She stared at what seemed a faded photo of Uncle Jo taken half a century before. I am simply puzzled by what you are telling me about the Car fairs.
On the other hand, the semantic content of the object clause discriminates three types of backgrounds: first, an immediately substantive background; second, an adverbial background; third, an uncharacterised background of general event. This differentiation depends on the functional status of the clause-connector, that is on the sentence-part role it performs in the clause. Cf.:
We couldn't decide whom we should address. The friends couldn't decide where they should spend their vacation.
The object clause in the first of the cited sentences is of a substantive background (We should address — whom), whereas the object clause in the second sentence is of adverbial-local background (They should spend their vacation — where).
The plot of the novel centred on what might be called a far-fetched, artificial situation. The conversation centred on why that clearly formulated provision of international law had been violated.
The first object clause in the above two sentences is of substantive background, while the second one is of an adverbial-causal background.
Object clauses of general event background are introduced by conjunctions: Now he could prove that the many years he had spent away from home had not been in vain.
The considered background features of subordinate clauses, certainly, refer to their inner status and therefore concern all the nominal clauses, not only object ones. But with object clauses they are of especial contrastive prominence, which is due to immediate dependence of
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