6

This is a linguistics question but I thought it related to english so I'm also posting here:

enter image description here

I have the following tree structure, and I don't understand why "of the lane" is a constituent?

The tests I know for constituency are:

Movement/Clefting

Substitution

Question/Answer

2
1

I think that clefting works here:

'Twas of the lane that a jogger ran toward the end.

This does sound clunky and antique (the 'twas doesn't help with this), but it is a grammatical sentence.

0

1) Movement/Clefting

Your example sentence involves a PP [PP of the lane] contained within another PP, [PP toward the end [PP of the lane]]. It is very difficult to manipulate, specifically, extract out of, complex structures of this kind. (See for example, A-over-A Principle).

(1) a. A jogger ran toward the end [PP of the lane].
      b. *? [PP Of what] did a jogger run toward the end. (question)
      c. *? [PP Of the lane], a jogger ran toward the end. (topicalization)
      d. *? It was [PP of the lane] that a jogger ran toward the end. (it-cleft)

If you simplify the sentence but keep the constituent "the end of the lane" as in the original, you can apply the relevant tests.

(2) a. The jogger finally reached the end [PP of the lane].
      b. [PP Of what] did the jogger finally reach the end? (question)
      c. [PP Of the lane], the jogger finally reached the end. (topicalization)
      d. It was [PP of the lane] that the jogger finally reached the end.

2) Substitution

You can substitute PPs with pronominal adverbs as pro-forms. The correct pro-form in this case is thereof.

(3) A jogger ran toward the end [thereof].

3) Question/Answer

For the same reason that you cannot easily move the of-phrase out of the toward-phrase in your particularly complex example, you cannot easily build a pair of question and answer fragment. However, you can work around that by forming an "echo-question", where the interrogative items appear in the same place as the original PP, and for which you need a particularly emotial pragmatic context.

(4) A: A jogger ran toward the end [PP of the lane].
      B: Excuse me!? A jogger ran toward the [PP OF WHAT]???
      A: [PP Of a lane]. Why does that upset you so much?

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.