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Functional Compositionality. Some linguistic forms are elemental, i.e. they cannot be broken down into more basic forms with more basic functions: definites: the beer gapping: Sally brought the wine, and Mary, the beer. (cf. work in Construction Grammar).

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Other constructions are functionally complex, i.e. composed of more basic constructions, each of which imposes its own constraints on the use of the whole.


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(1) of more basic constructions, each of which imposes its own constraints on the use of the whole.

There are two O-rings around the seal, and on about five, perhaps half a dozen STS flights, on each flight there are six seal areas, three segments, three breaks in each of two solids.

[Challenger Corpus]

 preposed PP plus existential there


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Not the same as inversion: of more basic constructions, each of which imposes its own constraints on the use of the whole.

...on each flight there are six seal areas, three segments, three breaks in each of two solids.

...on each flight are six seal areas, three segments, three breaks in each of two solids.


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A single argument-reversing construction? of more basic constructions, each of which imposes its own constraints on the use of the whole.

Or two distinct constructions?


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Functionally distinct from inversion: of more basic constructions, each of which imposes its own constraints on the use of the whole.

(2) Jill and John sat eating pizza. Jill took a slice and carefully picked off all the mushrooms, then took a big bite. #Across from her there was John, working on his fourth or fifth slice.

 postposed NP must represent h-new information

[...] Across from her was John, working on his fourth or fifth slice.

 inversion OK with h-old/d-old, h-old/d-old

[...] John was across from her, working on his fourth or fifth slice.[CWO]


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While inversion requires that the preposed constituent be at least as familiar as the postposed constituent, PP preposing with an existential comprises two distinct constructions used simultaneously rather than a single construction with a single function, and is correspondingly subject to the constraints on

those two component constructions.


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Thus, such sentences require the preposed PP to represent discourse-old information (satisfying the constraint on preposing) and the postposed NP to represent hearer-new information (satisfying the constraint on postposing).


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On each flight discourse-old information (satisfying the constraint on preposing) and the postposed NP to represent hearer-new information (satisfying the constraint on postposing).there are six seal areas

must be must be

discourse-old hearer-new

cf. inversion:

On each flight are six seal areas

must be no

newer than


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  • To summarize: discourse-old information (satisfying the constraint on preposing) and the postposed NP to represent hearer-new information (satisfying the constraint on postposing).

  • Inversion is a single construction subject to a single discourse constraint

  • PP preposing + existential is the sum of two constructions and is subject to the discourse constraints on both


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PP preposing with existential discourse-old information (satisfying the constraint on preposing) and the postposed NP to represent hearer-new information (satisfying the constraint on postposing).thereis a functionally compositional construction – that is, one whose discourse constraints are built up straightforwardly from those of the more basic constructions of which it is composed.


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Another family of functionally compositional constructions: discourse-old information (satisfying the constraint on preposing) and the postposed NP to represent hearer-new information (satisfying the constraint on postposing).

That would be X and its relatives (Birner, Kaplan, & Ward 2007)


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The original (rather small) question: discourse-old information (satisfying the constraint on preposing) and the postposed NP to represent hearer-new information (satisfying the constraint on postposing).

What does it mean to say That would be X rather than simply That’s X?


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Epistemic discourse-old information (satisfying the constraint on preposing) and the postposed NP to represent hearer-new information (satisfying the constraint on postposing).would:

(3) a. Q: Can you tell us if you recognize this

clothing?

A: That would be our standard attire, correct.

[Simpson transcripts, 2/7]

b. Dad: Uh… Who’s that boy hanging out in

our front yard, Danae?

Danae: That would be Jeffrey, my not-so-

secret admirer.

[‘Non Sequitur’ comic, 3/3/02]


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Use of epistemic discourse-old information (satisfying the constraint on preposing) and the postposed NP to represent hearer-new information (satisfying the constraint on postposing).would requires a contextually salient OP:

(4) Dad: Uh… Who’s that boy hanging out in

our front yard, Danae?

Danae: That would be Jeffrey, my not-so-

secret admirer.

(5) ‘that boy hanging out in our front yard is X’


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The epistemic discourse-old information (satisfying the constraint on preposing) and the postposed NP to represent hearer-new information (satisfying the constraint on postposing).would construction has a great deal in common with clefts – another set of OP-requiring constructions.


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Clefts: discourse-old information (satisfying the constraint on preposing) and the postposed NP to represent hearer-new information (satisfying the constraint on postposing).

(6) a. A: Well, has the cat discovered the hamsters yet?

B: The hamsters? Actually, it’s the dog that is enthralled with the hamsters.

[Switchboard Corpus]

b. A: How long do you cook the meatballs?

B: The meatballs you just, after you form them, fry them in a pan until they’re browned on all sides and then drain off all the grease. Then what I usually do is I freeze them.

[Switchboard Corpus]


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(7) a. NF: …One of, one my fellow soldiers came by discourse-old information (satisfying the constraint on preposing) and the postposed NP to represent hearer-new information (satisfying the constraint on postposing). and shook my bed and said, Come on Fredzo, get up… and the Sergeant himself said, ‘Leave him alone, he’s too short.’

KF: Hmm.

NF: I mean, the, that was the platoon sergeant that said that.

[Hedberg 1990, ch. 4, ex. 12]


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b. A: Kennedy was convinced he would discourse-old information (satisfying the constraint on preposing) and the postposed NP to represent hearer-new information (satisfying the constraint on postposing). have needed Texas in the ’64 election and chose to take his chances.

B: Lee – I was only kidding. Besides – do we really know that was JFK that was shot and not a stand in?

[http://www.netshrine.com/vbulletin2/ showthread.php?t=532&goto=nextoldest, 6/15/04]


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  • Clefts: discourse-old information (satisfying the constraint on preposing) and the postposed NP to represent hearer-new information (satisfying the constraint on postposing).

  • it-clefts: it’s the dogs that is enthralled with the hamsters

  • wh-clefts: what I usually do is I freeze them

  • th-clefts: that was the platoon sergeant that said that


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Th- discourse-old information (satisfying the constraint on preposing) and the postposed NP to represent hearer-new information (satisfying the constraint on postposing).clefts require an OP unless the referent is present in the visual context (cf. Prince 1981’s ‘situationally evoked’ information):

(8) Hey, that’s your cousin who’s sitting on the curb, isn’t it?


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  • In addition to full discourse-old information (satisfying the constraint on preposing) and the postposed NP to represent hearer-new information (satisfying the constraint on postposing).it-clefts and th-clefts, there are what have been referred to as ‘truncated clefts’ (Hedberg 2000, inter alia):

  • equative

  • structurally and functionally like clefts

  • but no relative clause


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(9) Tonight Keith and I were home hanging out in discourse-old information (satisfying the constraint on preposing) and the postposed NP to represent hearer-new information (satisfying the constraint on postposing). the apartment, eating our dinner and trying to watch this incomprehensible subtitled Indian film I brought home from the video store, when a knock came at the door. We were expecting a friend to drop by with some clothes for Zeke, so we figured it was her.

[www.12pointfont.com/02/120702.html]


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(10) A: Me? I never wallow. I suffer in silence. discourse-old information (satisfying the constraint on preposing) and the postposed NP to represent hearer-new information (satisfying the constraint on postposing).

B: No, that’s Christine.

[movie ‘Must Love Dogs’]

(11) Cleft variant: That’s Christine who suffers in silence.


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These would appear to have the same structure as simple equatives:

(10) A: Me? I never wallow. I suffer in silence.

B: No, that’s Christine.

(12) A: Who’s that woman over there?

B1: It’s Christine.

B2: That’s Christine.


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  • But then a sentence like equatives:That’s Christine is ambiguous between two syntactic analyses:

  • simple equative

  • truncated cleft

  • We will argue that the truncated-cleft analysis is unnecessary.


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The OP is required not for felicity, but for the cleft-like reading – i.e., to have a th-cleft paraphrase.

I can say That’s Christine out of the blue with no infelicity.


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These equatives are functionally compositional: Their pragmatic properties are built up from those of their components.


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Any equative with demonstrative pragmatic properties are built up from those of their components.that as its subject will, in the presence of a salient OP, have a cleft-like reading and show cleft-like properties.


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Commonalities among the pragmatic properties are built up from those of their components.constructions


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(13) [context: a knock at the front door] properties:

a. That would be Christine. [TWBX]

b. That’s Christine who’s at the door. [th-cleft]

c. That’s Christine. [th-equative]


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TWBX properties:


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Recall that the combination of the equative, demonstrative, and OP makes possible the use of the demonstrative to refer to the instantiation of the OP variable:

(14) a. A [holding cup]: Whose is this?

B: That would be my son. My youngest son, to be exact.

[conversation, 2/4/01]

OP: ‘this cup belongs to X’


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b. and OP makes possible the use of the demonstrative to refer to the instantiation of the OP variable:

Villager [in reference to an ogre]: He’ll grind your bones for his bread!

Shrek: Actually, that would be a giant.

[movie ‘Shrek’]

OP: ‘the creature that grinds your bones for his bread is X’

A: The pot’s light.

B: That would be me. [tosses in a chip]

[poker game, 1/31/03]

OP: ‘the person who failed to ante is X’

c.


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Salient OP introduces a new (unknown) entity into the discourse model (e.g., the person who failed to ante), rendering it available for discourse deixis.

Discourse deixis:

I bet you haven’t heard this story.(Levinson 1983)

That’s a lie.(Lyons 1977)


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Three predictions discourse model (e.g., the person who failed to ante), rendering it available for discourse deixis.

  • Ambiguity between variable reference and reference to some other salient entity

  • Apparent number disagreement due to verb agreeing with variable rather than salient plural entity

  • Apparent tense disagreement due to present-tense reference to instantiation rather than to salient past event


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Ambiguity: discourse model (e.g., the person who failed to ante), rendering it available for discourse deixis.

A: The pot’s light.

B: That would be me. [tosses in a chip]

OP: ‘the person who failed to ante is X’

[Looking through a photo album]

That would be me.


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In some cases, context fails to disambiguate: discourse model (e.g., the person who failed to ante), rendering it available for discourse deixis.

(15) [King dips his finger in a bowl held by a servant and then licks the food off his finger and proclaims it delicious.]

King: What do you call this dish?

Servant: That would be the dog’s breakfast.

[movie ‘Shrek 2’]

OP: ‘you call this dish X’


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Apparent number disagreement: discourse model (e.g., the person who failed to ante), rendering it available for discourse deixis.

(16) a. Also, here’s hoping you won’t burn your leaves, wasting them, despite the fact that burning them is illegal in most Illinois counties – that would be the populated ones, like Cook, DuPage, Lake, e.g. [email, 4/24/01]

OP: ‘the Illinois counties in which burning leaves is illegal are X’

 note singular that with plural NP


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b. No, I’m sorry, but I must disagree with the observation that cats are energy sinks. That would be children under the age of ... say 12.

[email, 06/06/01]

OP: ‘X are energy sinks’

c. I heard your names (that would be you and Andy) on NPR yesterday. [email, 6/26/02]

OP: ‘I heard the names of X’


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The demonstrative is used to refer to the (singular) instantation of the variable:

I heard your names (that would be you and Andy) on NPR yesterday. [email, 6/26/02]

OP: ‘I heard the names of X’

TWBX conveys ‘X (that) = you and Andy’


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Choice of demonstrative can disambiguate: instantation of the variable:

(17) The show started on ABC as Two Guys, A Girl And A Pizza Place. The show centered on three young characters just starting out in life - that would be the two guys and a girl.

[www.poobala.com/twoguysandagirl.html]

OP: ‘the three young characters just starting out in life are X’

Cf. ...those would be the two guys and a girl.


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Apparent tense disagreement: instantation of the variable:

(18) a. S: Do you remember a rainy afternoon we spent together? My father had driven your mother and David into town for a music lesson.

L: How old was he?

S: I don’t know... Fourteen, fifteen.

L: That would be the oboe.

[movie ‘Sabrina’]

OP: ‘David was taking lessons in X at that time’


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Compare with expected verb complex: instantation of the variable:

‘I bought two hundred extras when I put this roof on.’ ‘When was that?’ I asked. He looked up at the clouds. I don’t know whether he was divining the weather or the past. ‘Right after the war,’ he said. ‘That would have been forty-six.’

[Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams, 1990, Harper Collins, p. 275]

OP: ‘I put this roof on at time X’

b.


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  • TWBX makes an assertion either: instantation of the variable:

  • instantiating the variable, or

  • about some referent (in this case, a past event)

  • In the latter case, this instantiation is occurring in the present, hence the present tense is appropriate.


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Th- instantation of the variable:clefts


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(19) A: The KKK is consistently hateful. instantation of the variable:

B: I thought they were working on their kinder, gentler image - kind of like compassionate hatred.

C: [...] [T]hat’s George Bush who is practicing compassionate hatred.

[www.majorityreportradio.com/weblog/ archives/001292.php]

OP: ‘the one practicing compassionate hatred is X’


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Three predictions instantation of the variable:

  • Ambiguity between variable reference and reference to some other salient entity

  • Apparent number disagreement due to verb agreeing with variable rather than salient plural entity

  • Apparent tense disagreement due to present-tense reference to instantiation rather than to salient past event


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Ambiguity: instantation of the variable:

(20) A: Who’s the one practicing compassionate hatred?

B: That’s George Bush who is practicing compassionate hatred.

OP: ‘the one practicing compassionate hatred is X’

 subtle ambiguity between taking X as

referent and taking as antecedent the

one practicing compassionate hatred


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Apparent number disagreement instantation of the variable: – again, choice of demonstrative can disambiguate:

(21) A: Is it true that the officials who are resigning are the President and the CEO?

B: No, that’s the top three members of the Board of Directors who are resigning.

OP: ‘the officials who are resigning are X’

A: Is it true that the officials who are resigning are the President and the CEO?

B: No, those are the top three members of the Board of Directors who are resigning.


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Apparent temporal disagreement: instantation of the variable:

(22) A: When did you put this roof on?

B: Let’s see…. that’s 1946 that I put this roof on.

OP: ‘I put this roof on at time X’

 instantiation of variable is taking place

at the present time


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Again, when the demonstrative picks out something in the visual context, th-clefts do not require an OP:

  • a. Hey, that’s my uncle who’s walking over there.

  • b. #Hey, that’s 1946 that I put this roof on.

  • c. #Say, I read this interesting article yesterday; that’s George Bush who is practicing compassionate hatred.


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When there’s no OP (as in the visual-context cases), the apparent number and tense disagreements cannot occur, since there’s no variable-instantiation being referred to:

(24) #That’s my two brothers who are sitting over there.


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th- apparent number and tense disagreements cannot occur, since there’s no variable-instantiation being referred to:equatives


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Three predictions apparent number and tense disagreements cannot occur, since there’s no variable-instantiation being referred to:

  • Ambiguity between variable reference and reference to some other salient entity

  • Apparent number disagreement due to verb agreeing with variable rather than salient plural entity

  • Apparent tense disagreement due to present-tense reference to instantiation rather than to salient past event


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This account predicts that ANY equative with a demonstrative subject will, in the presence of a salient OP, show these same three properties.


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Ambiguity: subject will, in the presence of a salient OP, show these same three properties.

(25) a. This is not Iowa we’re talking about – This is a different society.

b. This is not Iowa.

[Hedberg 2000, ex. 17]

(26) A: Me? I never wallow. I suffer in silence.

B: No, that’s Christine.


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Apparent number disagreement: subject will, in the presence of a salient OP, show these same three properties.

(27) A: Is this like what you were saying yesterday? That you have to trust that I won’t hurt you?

B: No, that’s my parents, I’ve always known that I could trust you. [‘Unfinished Business,’ http://au.geocities.com/livvyb_au/ ub4b.html]

OP: ‘X has to trust that A won’t hurt B’


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Apparent tense disagreement: subject will, in the presence of a salient OP, show these same three properties.

(28) ‘When I was 13, (that’s 1969, folks) one of

my older brothers came home from college with a huge stack of Marvel Comics - Thor, Avengers, Fantastic Four, etc.’ [www.comicon.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb. cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=36;t=004058]

OP: ‘I was 13 at time X’


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And again, the OP requirement is lifted for visually present referents:

(29) Hey, that’s the Sears Tower!

In such cases, our three properties disappear:

(30) Hey, #that’s my favorite buildings!


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So the question is whether equatives have two possible syntactic sources – the simple equative and the truncated cleft.

This account would mean that ALL th-equatives are systematically ambiguous.

We argue that it is simpler to assume a single syntactic structure.


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To summarize: syntactic sources – the simple equative and the truncated cleft.

  • Three constructions:

    • TWBX (that would be Hilda)

    • th-cleft (that’s Hilda who won the Pulitzer)

    • th-equative (that’s Hilda)

  • Three interesting properties:

    • ambiguity

    • apparent number disagreement

    • apparent tense disagreement


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Functional Compositionality syntactic sources – the simple equative and the truncated cleft.

  • Three elementary properties:

    • Demonstrative subject (that)

    • Equative structure

    • Salient open proposition (OP)

  • When these three properties cooccur, the demonstrative can be used in reference to the OP variable


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These constructions show evidence of FUNCTIONAL COMPOSITIONALITY: The functions of the smaller pieces (the demonstrative, the equative, and the OP) combine in a predictable, compositional way.

This explains why the complex constructions sharing these smaller elements show the same set of properties.


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  • (31) a. I told my teacher that the John COMPOSITIONALITY: The functions of the smaller pieces (the demonstrative, the equative, and the OP) combine in a predictable, compositional way. Hancock building was the tallest building in Chicago, but then I realized that that’s the Sears Tower.

  • b. Oh, look – that’s the Sears Tower!

  •  The only difference between (31a) and (31b) is that (a) occurs in the context of an OP, and the demonstrative can therefore be used in reference to the instantiation of the variable. Syntactically, they are parallel.


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Conclusions COMPOSITIONALITY: The functions of the smaller pieces (the demonstrative, the equative, and the OP) combine in a predictable, compositional way.

th-equatives needn’t be viewed as truncated clefts

functional compositionality: the functional properties of a complex construction are built up from those of its parts


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