Author Topic: Plural Subject + Singular Agreement (Implied Clausal Subject)  (Read 556 times)

Online Daniel

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Re: Plural Subject + Singular Agreement (Implied Clausal Subject)
« Reply #30 on: May 18, 2018, 09:36:05 AM »
Please share them then. And the evidence that this is a construction rather than a general use of number-less noun phrases mentioned rather than referring to individuals. While my intuition is for another analysis than yours, I'm interested in what you have to say about it.
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Online Daniel

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Re: Plural Subject + Singular Agreement (Implied Clausal Subject)
« Reply #31 on: May 19, 2018, 06:34:36 AM »
Thinking about this more, I guess my analysis is basically equivalent to a metalinguistic construction, maybe not limited to nouns at all:

Imagine describing a scene as director for a movie:
"Yellow is fine."
"Happy is fine."
"In the corner is fine."
"Both is fine."
"Quickly is fine."

Maybe even literally metalinguistic as in a writer correcting a draft:
"And is fine."
"Went is fine."
"Goes is fine."
etc.

I'm not sure to what extent the noun phrases in the original example (and the others discussed above) are more like normal subjects than the obviously atypical examples given here, but I think this may be the same reason why plural agreement doesn't apply.
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Offline Audiendus

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Re: Plural Subject + Singular Agreement (Implied Clausal Subject)
« Reply #32 on: May 19, 2018, 06:38:09 PM »
Quote
"Yellow is fine."
"Happy is fine."
"In the corner is fine."
"Both is fine."
"Quickly is fine."
With the exception of the first one (where "yellow" can be a noun), I would say that these definitely involve ellipsis; they would not make sense without some prior context, e.g. "Shall I look happy?", "Do you want it in the corner?", which is implied in the answer (e.g. "To look happy is fine"). Contrast these with a sentence such as the well-known saying "Two [i.e. two people] is company, three [people] is a crowd", which can stand on its own, so we do not need to invoke ellipsis.

Quote
"And is fine."
"Went is fine."
"Goes is fine."
etc.
I think that if you put 'and', 'went' and 'goes' in quotes, they may be regarded as normal subjects (nouns), although ellipsis is another possible analysis (e.g. "to put 'and' is fine"). Without quotes, they cannot grammatically be normal subjects, so they must be elliptical. (They look odd without quotes, however, and if we were adding the missing words we would insert quotes anyway, i.e. "to put 'and' is fine".)

Online Daniel

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Re: Plural Subject + Singular Agreement (Implied Clausal Subject)
« Reply #33 on: May 19, 2018, 08:36:30 PM »
I wouldn't say they involve ellipsis (which I see as a specific syntactic operation in a generative sense), but they do involve/require context. If we coined the term "discourse ellipsis" then that might fit. Similar to how fragment answers work, but in this case there is no full linguistic structure to refer back to, so I don't know that they'd still be literally "ellipsis" rather than just fragments -- that is, concepts rather than declarations.

Indeed, quotations might be needed as punctuation-- I was thinking of just pronouncing those words, not how to write it out (I'm not sure such sentences would really appear in print).

So is it the case that those examples require quotes, but the plural subject NPs discussed above in this discussion do not?

As I said, I don't think that "Two doctors is fine" is literally metalinguistic, but it's something along those lines-- mentioning, rather than referring. Playing with the compositionality of language.

For similar reasons I'm not certain that quotes are needed on all of the examples in my previous post, although I would be more likely to agree for those than for the plural-with-singular-agreement noun subjects.
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