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Sentence or not
Thread poster: Pedroski

Pedroski
China
Local time: 12:42
English to German
May 6, 2009

Do you think this is a sentence.

She likes my friend who I think is clever.


 

Spencer Allman
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:42
Finnish to English
Yes May 6, 2009

with a comma after 'friend'

 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 06:42
German to Serbian
+ ...
Sure, it's a sentence May 6, 2009

Pedroski wrote:

Do you think this is a sentence.

She likes my friend who I think is clever.


Yes, what else could it be?

It has a subject, verb and an object.

( She) (likes) (my friend who I think is clever)

my friend who I think is clever = complex clausal object

The colleague suggested a comma after " friend". Depending on a desired rhythm, a comma can also come in this place:

She likes my friend who, I think, is clever.

Edit: Semantically, I admit it sounds a little odd, when pluck out of context like this.





[Edited at 2009-05-06 16:54 GMT]


 

Said Kaljanac a.k.a. SARAJ  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 06:42
Bosnian to French
+ ...
It is a sentence May 6, 2009

It is a sentence and not that odd.

Actually there are two sentences:

1) She likes my friend who is clever. ----> This sentence could be split in two: 'She likes my friend.' and 'My friend is clever'. In order to avoid repetition when you put the two into one you replace the second 'My friend' by 'who'.

2) I Think.


=> She likes my friend who I think is clever.

Other possibilities:

=> She likes my friend who -I think- is clever.

=> She likes my friend who, I think, is clever.

=> I think, she likes my friend who is clever.

=> I think she likes my clever friend.

=> She likes my clever friend, I think.

etc.


 

Rachel Fell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:42
French to English
+ ...
It is a sentence May 6, 2009

It could have a comma or two but doesn't need have to have any. E.g. it could be followed by: She doesn't like my friend who I think is not clever.

 

Pedroski
China
Local time: 12:42
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
headache May 7, 2009

It has subjects verbs and so on, but that alone does not make a sentence.

If this is a sentence, why can't I draw a simple Reed Kellogg diagram of it?

The first part is easy. She likes my friend.

That leaves me with: who is clever and I think.

Maybe one of you can do tree diagrams? Try it on this!

If I think has no object, what is it doing in the middle of a perfectly valid relative clause?
If I think takes NP who is clever as its object, you have no relative clause!

This has been driving me mad for three weeks now. Please help me to resolve this!!


 

transparx  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:42
English to Italian
+ ...
a fairly simple operation --and structure May 7, 2009

Most of the comments you have received are valid and accurate, though I disagree with Said when he says that the two sentences are:
1) She likes my friend who is clever.
2) I think.

In reality, the two sentences in question are:
1) She likes my friend. 2) I think (that) s/he is clever.

When you combine (1) (a simple sentence) and (2) (a complex sentence containing a noun clause), you get a new complex sentence. In other words, (2) becomes an adjective, or relative, clause.

What happens is this:
The pronoun "s/he'' moves leftwards and becomes "who." In English (as well as in many other languages), this is required because a pronoun without a wh- feature cannot support this type of construction.

The result is:
She likes my friend who I think is clever.

When you think of it, this is a fairly simple operation. But you are right, sentences such as this one may be puzzling --so much so that even native speakers sometimes feel they have to somehow "fix" them, which results in what is known as hypercorrection. What I have in mind is "She likes my friend whom I think is clever." Obviously, this sentence is unacceptable, but it is found out there (even in print) and is discussed in the literature.

Hope this helps!

P.S. Let me know if you still want to have a tree diagram drawn.


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:42
French to English
+ ...
Not so problematic May 7, 2009

Pedroski wrote:
It has subjects verbs and so on, but that alone does not make a sentence.

If this is a sentence, why can't I draw a simple Reed Kellogg diagram of it?


There's no single, universally agreed-upon definition of "sentence". Ultimately, it's just a "major unit" in the particular framework you're using to do your syntactic analysis. In any framework, there'll surely be some utterances that don't correspond to any such unit of analysis. I'm going to politely suggest that Reed-Kellogg won't give you the most possibilities-- it was a cute idea for Victorian junior school children, but I wouldn't try and use it in "serious" analysis; various other frameworks invented after the First World War do slightly better.

Pedroski wrote:
Maybe one of you can do tree diagrams? Try it on this!


OK, so in this case, the key to analysis is understanding:
- you're going to end up with a couple of "sentence-inside-a-sentence"s
- to syntactically make an element be in "two places at once", you put a "trace".

So you effectively analyse it as something like:

[She likes my friend [who_i I think [ t_i is clever ] ]

where [t_i is clever] is a sentence, with subject-- in this case a "trace" co-indexed with 'who'; that whole sentence is then the complement of the verb 'think' in the sentence [who I think ... ]; in turn, the latter sentence is a predicate of 'my friend', [my friend [ ...] ] together forms the complement of 'likes', and what you end up with is a sentence within a sentence within a sentence, but each of those sentences in itself has a fairly boring, similar structure.

Structurally, we analyse relatives as being similar to questions (indeed, in many European languages, relatives actually derive from questions).

And of course, there are surely plenty of details in this that will differ from framework to framework and analysis to analysis, but the general idea I think holds across many modern analyses.


 

Pedroski
China
Local time: 12:42
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
who relative and who interrogative May 7, 2009

Is there any difference between a 'who' relative pronoun and a 'who' interrogative pronoun?

What I don't like about what has been said is:

The moment you break up the NP 'who is clever', you are asking this 'who', which is part of the object of I think, to be 'who', the subject of the adjectival relative clause. This amounts to it being a noun and an adjective at the same time in the same sentence!

Adjectival clause (who is clever)
Noun clause (who is clever)


The way I see it, you have two options:

1) 'I think' has no object. Then it has been chucked in there, but has no relation to what is being said.
It looks like it could belong there, but is a bit like an absolute phrase.
2) 'I think' takes 'who is clever' as its object. Then this who is busy being part of the object, and can't be a subject of some other clause.

If 'I think' takes' _ is clever' as its object, then we have

(She likes my friend) who (I think _ is clever.)
If the who is still to be considered part of the NP 'who is clever', then you have not built a relative clause. It just looks like it!

This makes who a conjunction!

There is a problem arising from the choice of 'who' as the pronoun, which I can't quite get to the bottom of yet. Consider the following, almost identical, situation:

She likes my book. I think my book is good.
She likes my book. I think what is good? My identifies book, so don't write which book.
*She likes my book what I think is good. None of you would write this!

AND YES PLEASE I WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE TO SEE THE TREE DIAGRAM!

You could send it to peternanjing@gmail.com or post it here! (I might finally get some sleep then and concentrate on learning Chinese!)

Thanks for all your replies.


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 06:42
German to Serbian
+ ...
... May 7, 2009

Pedroski wrote:

If I think has no object, what is it doing in the middle of a perfectly valid relative clause?


Functioning as a decoration. " I think" here is like some commentary, adverbial, narrator's observation. TEST: If you drop " I think" out of the structure, you will still get a good sentence keeping its core meaning:

She likes my friend who is clever. ( the core meaning is still here), which proves " I think" to be just some additional ( and semantically avoidable) narrator's commentary.


Pedroski wrote:
If I think takes NP who is clever as its object, you have no relative clause!



On the contrary, of course you have ! " who is clever" is a perfect relative clause.

Just treat the object " my friend who I think is clever" as a NP with " friend" as NP Head. Then analyze it further. I'd treat " I think" as some kind of adverbial. Or, " who I think is clever" could be treated as
" I think (he/she) is clever".. he/ who= extra-posed subject. ( in tree diagram)


 

Pedroski
China
Local time: 12:42
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
confusion May 10, 2009

Well, I have consulted far and wide. I think my confusion stems from the fact that I was looking for 'who' to be the simple subject of the relative clause. It is not. It is the subject of the NP 'who is clever' which in it's turn is the object of 'I think'. I think is not just 'stuck in there' as it could appear. 'Who' has then been slid across to be next to the one it loves: 'my friend'. This is apparently normal behaviour.

Cf: (Maybe you don't understand the Dutch, but this is a translator web site! Someone will help you.)
This is from Professor Mark de Vries from the Rijks Universiteit te Groningen

Wh-constituenten kunnen successief-cyclisch verplaatst worden (in Noam
Chomsky's terminologie). Een mooi voorbeeld is:

(1a) What did Mary say that John claimed that Mike thought that Bill bought?

Hier is "what" het object van "bought", en wordt via de grenzen van de
recursief ingebedde subordinate object clauses naar voren verplaatst met
tussenstappen op elke clause-grens, hier aangegeven met een underscore.

(1b) What did Mary say [ _ that John claimed [ _ that Mike thought [ _
that Bill bought _ ]]]?

Een relative pronoun in het Engels kan hetzelfde doen, en dan krijg je
jouw voorbeeld.

(2) [a friend [who I think [ _ is clever]]].

Strangely, if you simply change the word 'friend' for 'book' in the original sentence, you end up with rubbish!
She likes my book which I think is clever. Because which could refer to 'book' or 'She likes my book.'


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Mind the Antecedent May 10, 2009

First of all we need a definition for 'sentence', something like
a sequence of words capable of standing alone to make an assertion, ask a question, or give a command, usually consisting of a subject and a predicate containing a finite verb

1. Purpose of utterance? (declarative, interrogative, imperative, exclamatory)
2. Grammar?
3. Syntax?
. . .
So, if a candidate 'sentence' has the purpose of utterance, possesses both proper grammar and syntax then it is considered to be a meaningful sentence IMO.

You. Right. Here. Five. Somebody else's.
I know (that) you know (that) I know (that) you know (that)...
Bug wears Badge where Bug wears Badge where Bug wears Badge...

[Редактировалось 2009-05-10 15:02 GMT]


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 06:42
German to Serbian
+ ...
Further commentaries May 10, 2009

Pedroski wrote:

Well, I have consulted far and wide. I think my confusion stems from the fact that I was looking for 'who' to be the simple subject of the relative clause. It is not. It is the subject of the NP 'who is clever' which in it's turn is the object of 'I think'. I think is not just 'stuck in there' as it could appear. 'Who' has then been slid across to be next to the one it loves: 'my friend'. This is apparently normal behaviour.


I agree with this.


Pedroski wrote:
Strangely, if you simply change the word 'friend' for 'book' in the original sentence, you end up with rubbish!
She likes my book which I think is clever. Because which could refer to 'book' or 'She likes my book.'


This is not a good test at all.

Book is inanimate, and friend is animate. ( completely different objects). Only animate nouns can be " clever", but not even all animate ( e.g. we could say a clever dog, but not a clever bug). To be semantically certain, the adjective " clever" is only assigned to human beings. ( because only they have mind, and " cleverness" stems from the mind or cognition). Basic semantic logic.

Unfortunately, the test you suggested doesn't make sense.


 

Pedroski
China
Local time: 12:42
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
English May 11, 2009

Hey Lingua 5B, please consider the following:

A clever idea. Do you maintain idea is an animate object?

He arranged the components into a very clever constellation, which functioned well.

The point being: there are no constraints on adjectives, except the ones your imagination, or lack of it, puts on them.

Please don't take offence, I'm only trying to help you.

[Edited at 2009-05-11 06:06 GMT]


 

chica nueva
Local time: 17:42
Chinese to English
Pardon me? 'constellation'? May 11, 2009

Pedroski wrote:
He arranged the components into a very clever constellation, which functioned well.


Hello Peter

Pardon me? this doesn't look like native English to me ... Would you mind telling us a bit more about yourself. Are you a Student of Chinese in Nanjing? Do you speak Dutch?

Perhaps you could consider posting your question in the KudoZ? IMO it's designed for discussions of this type.

Lesley

[Edited at 2009-05-11 04:45 GMT]


 
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