Author Topic: Is there anything wrong with this sentence?  (Read 5828 times)

Offline lx

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Re: Is there anything wrong with this sentence?
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2014, 04:39:45 PM »
I just took a quick look in the BNC to see what basic corroborating evidence (if any) I could see. Only searching for "never known him" (too lazy to look up the notation of accusative pronouns in their syntax) and there are only 16 results in total:
Quote
1    B20    W_fict_prose    A    B    C    It's a matter for the emperor, of course, but I've never known him refuse a name so recommended.' Thiercelin still could not think what he
2    C8E    W_fict_prose    A    B    C    It was certainly bizarre, Uncle Anwar behaving like a Muslim. I'd never known him believe in anything before, so it was an amazing novelty to find him
3    C8S    W_fict_prose    A    B    C    n't need me any more. Grgoire doesn't need me. I have never known him so happy.' She was then eighteen; serious, intense, and
4    FEE    W_fict_prose    A    B    C    he be doing? Round about four o'clock he did a thing I'd never known him do since I got there -- he started to play his guitar. He
5    FRC    W_fict_prose    A    B    C    family to be separated.' She sniffed emphatically.' But we have never known him. He was Mummy's only brother and they drifted apart.' She
6    G07    W_fict_prose    A    B    C    him to send that letter). It was a job. I've never known him in such a huff. Wouldn't he call it a day, and
7    GW3    W_fict_prose    A    B    C    sponger, or nasty with it?' Curtis hesitated.' I've never known him do anything vicious, though in drink he sometimes talks big. Usually he
8    GW8    W_fict_prose    A    B    C    . From the grave he could make a girl like her, who had never known him, feel extremes of emotion. She sat in a quiet, dark corner
9    GWB    W_fict_prose    A    B    C    off...' And he didn't come here?'' I've never known him come here until today.' Wycliffe was looking back down the slope,
10    H7W    W_fict_prose    A    B    C    shudder inwardly.' How on earth did you hook him? I've never known him go for the skinny boyish type before.' She sighed indulgently, but
11    HWL    W_fict_prose    A    B    C    Never know till I call,' Lewis shrugged.' But I've never known him closer than a mile to a pick-up. He's careful that way.
12    HXG    W_ac_soc_science    A    B    C    : 179; in Scheurweghs 1959: 240) (109) I had never known him ask a favour of this kind before. (Snow 1961: 25;
13    HXG    W_ac_soc_science    A    B    C    the operative sense followed by the to infinitive: (110) I've never known him to lie to me. (O'Neill 1934: 39; in Visser 1973
14    HXG    W_ac_soc_science    A    B    C    construed with to in British English as well: (112) I had never known him to pass the garden-gate before. (Dickens 1850: 127; in Jespersen
15    HXG    W_ac_soc_science    A    B    C    say, " I always get what I want from him. I've never known him to fail. (Thurston 1909: 4; in Kruisinga 1931: 241
16    EC8    W_non_ac_humanities_arts    A    B    C    endure when aristocracies crack and proletariats crumble. In our own land we have never known him, but till we create him our land will not be a nation.

Some (red) without to, others with it, and one interesting quote in blue that looks like it might even be an explanation of the difference, which would be a nice coincidence if that turns out to be true. I would accept both versions, the one that sounds more normal is the one with 'to'. It has the same distinction as the bare verb form in subjunctive-that clauses.

It's a requirement that she come to work on time.
It's a requirement that she comes to work on time.

People say both in ordinary speech, but the one with -s sounds more ordinary (as does the version of 'never known him' with 'to') but the original one still sounds correct. To me, anyway. The difference is of formality, though I can accept some examples in that list do sound a bit strange and wouldn't be anything I'd say. Some forms of that syntax (including the one mallu posted) are just formal sounding, not ungrammatical to my ear. It does sound a lot better with a pronoun than a full NP though, which usually signals a feature on its way out of the language or structurally unsound (where many syntactic features remain with pronominal uses after full NP uses have started to fall away out of the syntax, like V2). Okay, now I've reached the point where I can't judge it objectively anymore. Cool to see such different opinions on it though. I'm not surprised it's felt to be ungrammatical for non BE speakers.

Found the updated POS-syntax if anyone else fancies a gander - known [pp*] [vv0*] (known + pronoun + bare infinitive)

Radford mentions this form in many of his books, so it rules out the chance of it being unintentional.
In "Minimalist Syntax: Exploring the Structure of English" he uses the example "I have never known [him tell a lie]" as an example. Then in "English Syntax: An Introduction" he uses the sentence quoted on the last page about Tom. In another book (Analysing English Sentences: A Minimalist Approach) he has the example, "I've never known there be complaints about syntax." In Syntactic Theory and the Structure of English, the Tom example is used again etc. etc.

WebLearnEng also has something to say on their site about it:
Quote
The verb word “to know”, when it means ‘to see’ or ‘experience’, may be followed by an infinitive with or without ‘to’:

e.g.

I have never known him make a mistake.

or

I have never known him to make a mistake.

Just putting it out there before any potential tacit assumptions are made about my ability to English!
« Last Edit: April 25, 2014, 05:31:22 PM by lx »

Offline lx

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Re: Is there anything wrong with this sentence?
« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2014, 04:43:52 PM »
For comparison:

I have never seen Tom criticize anyone
?I see Tom criticize anyone
?I will see Tom criticize anyone
?I saw Tom criticize anyone

The last three examples aren't really ungrammatical, I just can't imagine anyone ever saying them.
That example is a bit flawed because anyone requires a corresponding NPI in the sentence, a feature which is present in the top example but absent in the rest, which makes them sound quite off. Put a never (an NPI) in there and all the examples become grammatical.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2014, 04:48:02 PM by lx »

Offline MalFet

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Re: Is there anything wrong with this sentence?
« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2014, 06:57:37 PM »
FWIW, these constructions are quite common in South Asian Englishes, too.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Is there anything wrong with this sentence?
« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2014, 07:35:28 PM »
Borrowed/inherited from British English or extended? Do you find other structure such as more traditional serial verbs, etc?

As lx said, the NPI "anyone" is a secondary complication in the original data (and my earlier post).

But either adding "never" or using some other word than "anyone" do you find this acceptable in all tenses, lx?



I wonder if this is somehow related to:
A) That's the man are a sandwich. (No relativizer in subject relatives.)
And/or
B) There's a dog chased a cat. (A type of so-called amalgam sentence.)

They're somewhat similar and not found in American English.
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Offline mallu

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Re: Is there anything wrong with this sentence?
« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2014, 10:01:38 PM »
There is at least one more sentence in the same book , you may not like.

'There were awarded several prizes'
« Last Edit: April 26, 2014, 11:03:21 AM by mallu »

Offline lx

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Re: Is there anything wrong with this sentence?
« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2014, 01:00:02 AM »
Quote
But either adding "never" or using some other word than "anyone" do you find this acceptable in all tenses, lx?
With known or seen as the main verb?
Quote
I wonder if this is somehow related to:
A) That's the man are a sandwich. (No relativizer in subject relatives.)
And/or
B) There's a dog chased a cat. (A type of so-called amalgam sentence.)
I can't make heads nor tails of those sentences. What would they be in more standard structures? As far as I can see, and I probably should wait for clarification on the first question, but it's just how 'see' works in regard to its subcategorisation features as indicated in the post above.

Offline Corybobory

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Re: Is there anything wrong with this sentence?
« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2014, 02:12:02 AM »
Hi Mallu, I got the link you sent me to check this thread - what is it you want my opinion on?  There seems to already be a rousing discussion :p
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Offline Daniel

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Re: Is there anything wrong with this sentence?
« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2014, 08:42:20 AM »
Quote from: lx
With known or seen as the main verb?
known

Quote
I can't make heads nor tails of those sentences. What would they be in more standard structures? As far as I can see, and I probably should wait for clarification on the first question, but it's just how 'see' works in regard to its subcategorisation features as indicated in the post above.
Oops. That might be because there's a typo in the first one :)

It should be:
A) That's the man ate a sandwich. (No relativizer in subject relatives.)
I've heard sentences like this (subject relatives without 'that/who') from British speakers

B) There's a dog chased a cat. (A type of so-called amalgam sentence.)
I've seen this type of sentence cited a few times, though I've never heard it. (I could look up exactly the form that is cited, if there's a chance the particular verb/etc. would change the grammaticality.)
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Offline lx

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Re: Is there anything wrong with this sentence?
« Reply #23 on: April 26, 2014, 08:52:09 AM »
Aha, I think I've seen you mention that 'ate' example on here before. I have no familiarity with that type of sentence, nor the other example you cited. About the example of known + pronoun + bare infinitive in all tenses,  I might have to have a little think about that. I think due to the semantics of the verb phrase we have to be in the past tense only when looking at this structure. It could be possible in the future perfect but I can't think of any reasonable example that sounds okay to me. It all seems to come back to the present perfect, upon quick reflection.