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I'm writing an essay on a passage from Jane Austen's Emma and am trying to comment upon the structure of a certain sentence. I know what I want to say (in terms of the effects of the syntax), but I could use some help with describing the syntax itself, as my grammar's a little shaky.

The sentence is:

"He was accused of having a delightful voice, and a perfect knowledge of music; which was properly denied; and that he knew nothing of the matter, and had no voice at all, roundly asserted"

I noticed that this was made of two similarly structured parts (phrases? clauses? This is where I'm getting lost): (very loosely) ... [object] and [object], ... [verb]; [object] and [object], ... [verb]". How might I describe this? In my quest to describe this accurately I've discovered complex-compound sentences and verb complements, but I'm still pretty lost. Can anyone give me a hand?

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It might be helpful to first divide it into two halves:

1. He was accused of having [a delightful voice], and [a perfect knowledge of music]; [[which was properly denied]].

The predicate of the clause (subject "He") contains a large preposition phrase (from "of" to "music") where the complement of the prep "of" is the non-finite having clause comprising two noun phrases (bracketed) serving as objects of "having". That clause is the antecedent for the double-bracketed non-restrictive relative clause. So we understand that "x" denied having a delightful voice and a perfect knowledge of music".

2. and [that he knew nothing of the matter], and [had no voice at all], roundly asserted.

The clause in the second part contains two coordinated subordinate clauses (bracketed) as subject of "asserted". You could paraphrase this by extraposing the subject: "It was roundly asserted [that he knew nothing of the matter], and [had no voice at all]".

  • Well, for 2., the logical subject of "assert" is "he", not "it". He is making a polite disclaimer of what is expressed as a single subordinate "that" clause whose subject is "he" and whose predicate is the coordination of the two V's "knew nothing of the matter" and "had no voice at all". You've got it parsed wrong. – Greg Lee Apr 1 '16 at 15:07
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Here is a partial analysis:

[S [S They accused him of X] but [S he [V' [V' denied X (denying X was proper)] and [V' asserted Y (asserting Y was done roundly)]] ] ]

where "denying X was proper" is an appositive relative clause in apposition to the verb phrase "denying X", and this is converted to an adverb that modifies that verb phrase, "properly",

and "asserting Y was done roundly" is also a relative clause, which modifies the V' "asserted Y",

and X = a nominalized form of "he had [NP [NP a delightful voice] and [NP a perfect knowledge of music] ]"

and Y = "he [V' [V' knew nothing of the matter] and [V' had no voice at all] ]"

"He was accused of having a delightful voice, and a perfect knowledge of music; which was properly denied; and that he knew nothing of the matter, and had no voice at all, roundly asserted"

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