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I'm trying to do a sentence/phrase analysis of the following sentence. I just can't figure out, what would “No matter the season” be (Adv. of ...) in terms of sentence elements.

And the next question is about the PostM of the NP of the DO. “Found nowhere else in Britain” is PostM, realised by restrictive relative cl (with zero marker: challenge [that is] found ...) or not?

        ?                 S/NP                   P/VP       IO/PP           DO/NP

No matter the season,/ these combined features /present /to the climber /a uniquely varied and demanding challenge found nowhere else in Britain.

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sniff sniff Do I smell homework? –  user1579 Apr 21 '11 at 1:25
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@Rhodri: Sorry that was my Gouda. –  Cerberus Apr 21 '11 at 1:37
    
@Cerberus: lol :D –  Alenanno Apr 21 '11 at 7:27
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5 Answers

I don't know about your terminology, so perhaps my analysis won't be of use to you; but this is how I'd parse your example according to traditional grammar.

[It is] no matter [what] the season [is]: these features present...

The "no matter" phrase is an elliptical clause, to be completed hypothetically as above. It is simply an independent main clause—no part of the co-ordinate main clause "these features present". I agree that parsing this phrase is problematic and that other labels are possible. As an alternative you could parse it as an anacoluthon or parenthesis: no matter the season—these features represent....

...a challenge, found nowhere else in Britain.

"Found" is a participle that modifies "challenge". Since participles are best considered both verb and adjective, its adjectival function is to modify "challenge", its verbal function to govern "nowhere else in Britain", a satellite of location (where is it found? nowhere else ...).

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Just to add some specificity to the other answers, here is an attempt at a parse tree:

parse tree of the sentence

The image was created by using

with the input:

  • [S [AdvP [ADV no matter the season]] [NP [DET these] [ADJ combined] [N features] ] [VP [V present] [NP [ART a] [AdjP [ADV uniquely] [AdjP [Adj varied] and [Adj demanding]]] challenge [AdjP found [AdvP nowhere else ]]]]]

which I created out of thin air. Please critique/come up with an alternative. I have not yet found a reasonably accurate online English parser.

Note that I'm not even trying to parse 'No matter the X'.

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Let us render this into more intelligible modern prose, and see if that helps.

No matter [what] the season [may be (in other words, "regardless of the season")], these combined features [in other words, "these geographical features, taken all at once,"] present to the climber [in other words, "present the climber with"] a uniquely [in my opinion, this word is redundant with the phrase "nowhere else" appearing at the end of the sentence] varied and demanding challenge [that may be] found nowhere else [in other words, "that is not to be found anywhere else"] in Britain.

So, as revised into our modern (and far less poetic) language, the sentence might read: "Regardless of the season, these geographical features, taken all at once, present the climber with a varied and demanding challenge that is not to be found anywhere else in Britain."

It might also be pointed out that the phrase that you seek to identify may be placed at the end of the sentence with no damage to meaning, and, after revision into our clanking contemporary speech, such placement lends it a great deal more emphasis:

"These geographical features, taken all at once, present the climber with a varied and demanding challenge that is not to be found anywhere else in Britain, regardless of the season."

You should now easily be able to see that this is a dependent clause (or "subordinate clause," depending on your local pedagogical tradition), set off by a comma. I hope this helps. --DKR

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I find "no matter the season" strange, because to me "no matter" is a subordinating conjunction (that usually takes a wh-clause): this writer seems to be using it as a preposition.

You could regard "found nowhere else in Britain" as a reduced relative clause, but I don't think that's necessary: modifiers consisting of an adjective plus complement of some sort are often postfixed.

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I don't know about your terminology, so perhaps my analysis won't be of use to you; but this is how I'd parse your example according to modern grammar.

I just can't figure out, what would “No matter the season” be (Adv. of ...) in terms of sentence elements.

The role no matter the season plays in this sentence is adjunct to the main clause. This is a pretty loose grammatical function. Many kinds of expressions can fill it: regardless of the season / whatever the season / whatever season it is / summer or winter / whether it's summer or winter / throughout the year.

As for the internal structure, no matter is a stock phrase with peculiar grammar. It usually takes an interrogative clause complement (no matter [where you live / who you are / how angry she is]). Here it's reduced to an NP. That is fairly common; the meaning is no matter [what] the season [is].

(Cerberus says no matter is itself an elliptic clause, a reduction of it is no matter. I disagree, because if you actually expand it that way, the sentence becomes ungrammatical unless you also change the punctuation or prosody. No matter can be used even without punctuation, in the same situations as if: I will drop by no matter what happens / if nothing happens.)

And the next question is about the PostM of the NP of the DO. “Found nowhere else in Britain” is PostM, realised by restrictive relative cl (with zero marker: challenge [that is] found ...) or not?

Sounds good to me.

You marked to the climber as "IO". It's not. An IO has to be a noun phrase, and it can't be moved after the direct object (as this phrase could, if the DO weren't so long). Some verbs, like transfer, can take a to PP complement but cannot take an IO.

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"... if you actually expand it that way, the sentence becomes ungrammatical unless you also change the punctuation or prosody". Why would changing punctuation be so bad? For me, punctuation is restricted to writing and won't serve to prove grammar, since grammar is common to speech and writing. // At any rate I wasn't saying my parsing was the only possible option; I am a diachronist/traditionalist, and you are of the other school. It might be that your terminology fits better with the OP's needs. –  Cerberus Apr 22 '11 at 22:59
    
I don't say my parsing is the only possible option either; in fact, I'm very glad you're around, because I'm not familiar with the traditional school, and I learn a lot from your posts. I meant my answer to be complementary to yours. –  Jason Orendorff Apr 24 '11 at 3:08
    
@Cerberus: I'll try and explain the prosody thing. I like Colin Fine’s explanation of no matter as a subordinating conjunction. If no matter is short for it is no matter, then no matter what happens is an independent clause. But when you say a sentence with two adjacent independent clauses, you always put a nice long pause between them, and/or use a falling or rising tone to mark the boundary between them. This is marked in print by a semicolon or colon. I wouldn’t say I'll be there it is no matter what without a pause, the way I say I’ll be there no matter what. –  Jason Orendorff Apr 24 '11 at 3:17
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