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I'm trying to mark clause boundaries (main, subordinate & embedded clause); I can't play my own devil's advocate anymore, would be so grateful if anyone could weigh in on this:

Sentence:

With more than 430,000 migrants having reached Europe by sea this year, the countries of Europe resurrecting borders they'd once removed, and thousands of people in Calais trying to reach Britain illegally, some people have argued that we're on the verge of a 'great age of migration', in which national governments are powerless to resist huge numbers of people, travelling the world in search of a better life.

Analysis:

  • Clause 1 (objects of the preposition 'with' ?):

    With (more than 430,000 migrants having reached Europe by sea this year), (the countries of Europe resurrecting borders [[(that) they'd once removed]]), and (thousands of people in Calais trying to reach Britain illegally), some people have argued...

  • Clause 2 (dependent clause because of verbal process 'argued'):

    (everything after 'in which' modifies 'great age') that we're on the verge of a 'great age of migration', [[in which national governments are powerless to resist huge numbers of people, [[travelling the world in search of a better life]].

    OR

    Going by the idea that every clause has a verbal group, which means I would split up Clause 1 as well.

  • Clause 3:

    in which national governments are powerless

  • Clause 4:

    to resist huge numbers of people, [[(who are) travelling the world in search of a better life]].

  • Hi, welcome to the site: ) I've tried to make your question easier to scan down, as with the nested brackets, I found it hard to read, but please feel free to revert if I've lost some of your intended meaning. – anotherdave Dec 7 '15 at 15:07
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It might be helpful to split it into two sections; the initial large preposition phrase containing several sub clauses and functioning as an omissible adjunct, and the subsequent main clause with its own numerous SCs:

PP Adjunct

With [more than 430,000 migrants having reached Europe by sea this year], [the countries of Europe resurrecting borders [they'd once removed], and [thousands of people in Calais trying [to reach Britain illegally]].

The PP is headed by the prep with, which has as its complement 3 coordinated sub clauses, 2 of which contain further sub clauses:

1) more than 430,000 migrants having reached Europe by sea this year.

2) the countries of Europe resurrecting borders [they’d once removed], containing the relative clause they'd once removed which modifies the NP borders.

3) thousands of people in Calais trying [to reach Britain illegally] containing the clause to reach Britain illegally, which is catenative complement to trying.

Main Clause

[Some people have argued [that we're on the verge of a 'great age of migration' [in which national governments are powerless [to resist huge numbers of people, [travelling the world in search of a better life]]]]].

The MC contains 4 sub clauses:

1) the large that-content clause as complement to have argued, and containing:

2) the relative in which clause modifying the NP great age of migration, which in turn contains:

3) the infinitival to resist clause as complement to powerless, which contains:

4) the participial travelling clause modifying the NP huge numbers of people.

(note: some grammars would analyse the having in having reached Europe as a catenative verb with reached Europe thus a sub clause as catenative complement. To keep it simple, I've treated having reached as a constituent, i.e. 'the verb'.

| improve this answer | |
  • @A. Brown Yes, it would. – BillJ Dec 7 '15 at 16:27
  • Thank you so much! Your replies gave me so much clarity. I'm actually trying to do a transitivity analysis (identifying Actor, Process, Goal and circumstance in a ranking clause), so in view of what you said earlier: MAIN CLAUSE: Circumstance - PP Adjunct Actor - Some people Process - have argued DEPENDENT CLAUSE: (because 'that' functions as a subordinate conjunction, the clause can be deemed as a dependent clause and not an embedded.) Actor - we Process (relational) - are Goal - on the verge of a 'great age of migration' – A. Brown Dec 7 '15 at 16:31
  • @A. Brown The that- content clause is subordinate and embedded within the larger clause. – BillJ Dec 7 '15 at 16:49
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Here is my effort to show the clause structure using indentation:

 With
  more than 430,000 migrants having reached Europe by sea this year,
  the countries of Europe resurrecting borders they'd once removed, and  
  thousands of people in Calais trying to reach Britain illegally,
some people have argued
 that we're on the verge of a 'great age of migration',
  in which national governments are powerless to resist
   huge numbers of people travelling the world in search of a better life.
| improve this answer | |
  • Nicely done, Greg (though I'd call 'trying to reach' and 'powerless to resist' two clauses each). Note that there's a main verb in each clause (reach, resurrect, try, reach, argue, be on the verge, be powerless, resist, travel), and often a bunch of auxiliary verbs. That's the giveaway -- every main verb is the nucleus of its own clause, which may get worn down. – John Lawler Jul 5 '16 at 0:39

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