Those talents, as they make a part of his fortune, so do they likewise of that of the society to which he belongs. (Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations)

The structure of the sentence above from Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations is too complex for me. I have tried a few times to draw the X-Bar tree but I couldn't.

Is "as they make a part of his fortune" an embedded clause? I would appreciate it if you could draw the tree or explain the structure of the sentence (constituents).

  • 1
    You should ask this question on our Linguistics site, here link. – BillJ Oct 25 '18 at 9:09
  • 2
    @BillJ Two problems there, unfortunately. They won't help with syntax trees, and they won't do language-specific questions (although there seems to be some leeway with the latter, occasionally) – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 25 '18 at 11:57
  • Would it be on topic here at ELU to at least explain what refers to what? The sentence is pretty convoluted. – Mitch Oct 25 '18 at 12:44
  • @Araucaria That's true. I've put up a few CGEL-type trees there in the past, and no one has complained, though I don't (can't?) do x-bar stuff. – BillJ Oct 25 '18 at 13:50
  • I think you're on the right lines. The structure of the sentence resembles a correlative comparative one, but here the subordinate clause functions as complement to "as": "As those talents make a part of his fortune, so do they make a fortune of the society to which he belongs". – BillJ Oct 25 '18 at 14:04

X-bar is a general, structural, formal template for phrase structure. Specifically, X-bar assumes that phrases have a head, X° which may take a complement forming an intermediate category X', which in turn can occur with a specifer to form a maximal phrase, XP.

X-bar is not a comprehensive theory of syntactic structure. Hence, there is no such thing as "the" X-bar tree for your sentence. Rather, there are many possible trees conforming to the X-bar format, which differ widely in detail depending on your specific syntactic assumptions. Your sentence is extremely complicated, involving displaced constituents, parentheticals, and ellipsis! Hence, it's unreasonable to expect there to be one, consensus, standard tree for it.

This being said, here is one possible syntactic analysis that conforms to the formal principles imposed by X-bar.

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This tree makes a lot structural assumptions, which are not part of X-bar, such as:

  • The tree uses a CP-IP-VP hierarchy of projections.
  • Pronouns, like he, are of category D.
  • English has an empty tense agreement morpheme in I in clauses with finite lexical main verbs.
  • Any machinery that would explain displacement is omitted (here formalized as movement with a trace, t, belongs to which -> to whichs ... belongs).
  • Wh-relative clauses involve an empty C-head.
  • Interrogative pronouns, like which, are of category D.
  • Relative clauses are adjoined to NP.
  • The tree follows the "DP-hypothesis" - structures like the fortune are headed by "the", not by "fortune".
  • Co-reference in relative clauses is accomplished by simple co-indexing (societyj ... whichj)
  • The of-phrase after fortune of and part of is a complement.
  • Ellipsis is modelled as deletion, shown with a strike-through. That analysis is used for gapping and noun-ellipsis.
  • Specifiers are used exclusively for subject positions.
  • Likewise is an adverb.
  • Adverbs are adjoined to VP.
  • There is a correlative relation between the as-clause and resumptive so, shown by co-indexing
  • Left-dislocation with resumptions (in those talents ... they and as ... so) is adjunction to CP.
  • subject auxiliary inversion is I-to-C movement.
  • The possessive his is of category D.
  • The clause as they make ... is a free relative - it means "in that manner in which they make", involving fronting of as functioning as an operator.

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