Basics of English?

  • Thread starter pivoxa15
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  • #26
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berkeman said:
Yes to both questions.
Could you point out the theory behind the error in the first instance?
 
  • #27
honestrosewater
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pivoxa15 said:
Could you point out the theory behind the error in the first instance?
Note that

(1) Electric circuits will be covered on Tuesday.

is grammatical, so the meaning of on's object is possibly the source of the problem. How would you parse (2)?

(2) *Electric circuits will be covered on chapter 4.

It looks like you have more problems there than you want. To me, cover is a binary predicate with one non-overt argument in (2), but you might not need that complication. What about

(3) *Electric circuits will be covered by us on chapter 4.

And I don't think the voice matters, so

(4) *We will cover circuits on chapter 4.

And I don't think you care about tense, so

(5) *We cover circuits on chapter 4.

And unless you're interested in some of the other meanings of cover, why not

(6) *We study circuits on chapter 4.

Can you see the last complication now? Take a look at

(7) We study clowns on stilts.

Who is on stilts: you or the clowns? That is, is the PP a sister or a constituent of the V's direct object argument?

(8) a. [DPWe] [VPstudy [DPclowns] [PPon stilts]].
b. [DPWe] [VPstudy [DPclowns [PPon stilts]]].

I don't think this ambiguity is your main problem, though. The main problem is that neither interpretation is intended -- the usual meanings of on lead to nonsensical models. You don't mean to say that your study will take place on the chapter, and you also don't mean to say that the circuits are on the chapter. I do think the former is the intended structure, for what it's worth. I'm not sure if it makes sense to describe this as a semantic selectional restriction, which was my first guess, but you might want to look into that if you're interested.
 
  • #28
honestrosewater
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Oh, I just thought of how it could be a selectional restriction. The meaning that you want in this case is something like during. Consider

(1) Electric circuits will be covered on Tuesday.
(9) Electric circuits will be covered in chapter 4.
(10) a. Electric circuits will be covered during Tuesday.
b. Electric circuits will be covered during chapter 4.

The object of your P must be something that can have a duration. For example, it could be an event. (That is possibly the only example. I can't think of any others at the moment. EDIT: A state might count as another, if you don't consider a state to be an event.) A day can have a duration, but a chapter cannot. That might be your selectional restriction: the P's argument in that case must have the property of being able to have the property of having a duration.

(The structure of (10b) might be something more like electric circuits will be covered during (our study of) chapter 4.)


Actually, that's kinda backwards. I'm not sure how to describe it. I think the thing is that on with a non-event, non-state object cannot give you the event or state that you want to relate to cover. An event or state (e.g., Tuesday) obviously gives you a state or event, and during does the same by implication. I think that works.?
 
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  • #29
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I raised this example because I saw the sentence, "...for reasons that will become clear later on Section 9.2." in a book.

The on looked a bit suspicious as you pointed out. This example is similiar to my example? In that in would be a better word and the use of on is wrong?
 
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  • #30
selfAdjoint
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pivoxa15 said:
I raised this example because I saw the sentence, "...for reasons that will become clear later on Section 9.2." in a book.

The on looked a bit suspicious as you pointed out. This example is similiar to my example? In that in would be a better word and the use of on is wrong?

Absolutely. "In" is correct and "on" is an obvious clunker. I think the "on" in your quote may have been a misprint that they didn't catch.
 

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