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SEMI-COMPOSITE SENTENCE

As was mentioned above, in Unit 25, both composite and semi-composite sentences are polypredicative syntactic constructions: they have two or more predicative lines. The difference between the two is in the degree of independence of predicative lines: in a composite sentence the predicative lines are expressed separately, they are fully predicative, each with a subject and a predicate (expressed by a finite form of the verb) of its own; in a semi-composite sentence the predicative lines are fused, blended, with at least one predicative line being semi-predicative (potentially predicative, partially predicative). In other words, in a semi-composite sentence, one predicative line can be identified as the leading, or dominant one, and the others are semi-predicative expansions.

Paradigmatically, the semi-composite sentence, being a polypredicative construction, is derived from two base sentences. For example: I saw her entering the room. ß I saw her. + She was entering the room. The second kernel sentence has been phrasalized, transformed into a participial phrase (her entering the room), and combined with the first sentence. The two predicative lines fuse, overlapping around the common element, her, which performs the function of the object of the leading, fully predicative part.

Thus, the semi-composite sentence can be defined as a syntactic construction of an intermediary type between the composite sentence and the simple sentence: in its “surface”, syntactic structure, it is similar to a simple sentence, because it contains only one fully predicative line; in its “deep”, semantic structure and in its derivational history, the semi-composite sentence is similar to a composite sentence, because it is derived from two base sentences and reflects two dynamic situations.

Semantically, the semi-composite sentence reflects the speaker’s presentation of two situationally connected events as being more closely united than the events described in the clauses of a composite sentence: one of the events (usually, the one in the semi-predicative semi-clause) is presented as a by-event, as a background situation in relation to the other, dominant event (usually, the one in the fully predicative semi-clause).

 

Semi-composite sentences, like composite sentences of complete composition (pleni-composite), are further subdivided into semi-compound sentences, built on the principle of coordination (parataxis), and semi-complex sentences, built on the principle of subordination (hypotaxis).

In the semi-complex sentence, one kernel sentence functions as a matrix into which the insert kernel sentence is embedded: the insert sentence is transformed into a partially predicative phrase and occupies the position of a nominative part in the matrix sentence. The matrix sentence becomes the dominant part of the semi-complex sentence and the insert sentence becomes its subordinate semi-clause.

Predicative fusion in semi-complex sentences may be effected in two ways: by the process of position-sharing (word-sharing) or by the process of direct linear expansion.



Sentences based on position-sharing fall into two types: sentences of subject-sharing and sentences of object-sharing. Semi-complex sentences of subject-sharing are built up by means of two base sentences overlapping round a common subject, e.g.: They married young. ß They married. + They were young. The predicate in such sentences is defined as a double predicate, because it is a blend of a verbal predicate with a nominal predicate. Semi-complex sentences with double predicates express the simultaneity of two events, with the informative prominence on the semi-predicative complicator part; this can be shown by the transformation of the sentence into a correspondent complex (pleni-complex) sentence, cf.: When they married, they were young. Another type of the semi-complex sentence of subject-sharing is sentences which include the so-called complex subject constructions; in these sentences, the verb in the dominant part is used in the passive, and the complicator part includes either a participle, or an infinitive, e.g.: She was seen to enter the room / entering the room. Sentences with complex subject constructions, as was mentioned in Unit 11, are passive transforms of sentences with complex object constructions, which make up another type of sentences based on position-sharing.

In semi-complex sentences of object-sharing, the common element, round which the fully-predicative and the semi-predicative parts overlap, performs the function of an object in the leading part (the matrix) and the function of the subject in the complicator semi-clause (the insert); for example, in sentences with complex object constructions, which include either a participle, or an infinitive, e.g.: I saw her entering/ enter the room. ß I saw her. + She was entering the room. Such sentences express the simultaneity of two events in the same place (with verbs of perception in the dominant part) or various mental attitudes (with the verbs to tell, to report, to think, to believe, to find, to expect, etc. in the dominant part). There are other types of object-sharing semi-complex sentences, expressing the relations of cause and result, e.g.: The fallen rock knocked him unconscious. ß The fallen rock knocked him. + He became unconscious. Some causative verbs and verbs of liking/disliking are not normally used outside of semi-complex sentences of object-sharing; such complex sentences can be described as sentences of “bound” object-sharing, e.g.: They made me leave; We made him a star; I had my hair done; I want the room done; I like my steaks raw. Most semi-complex sentences of the object-sharing type, though not all of them, are transformable into sentences of the subject-sharing type, cf.: I saw her entering/ enter the room. à She was seen entering / to enter the room; The fallen rock knocked him unconscious.à He was knocked unconscious by the fallen rock. As the examples show, the complicator part in semi-complex sentences of subject-sharing and of object-sharing may include non-finite forms of the verb (the infinitive, participle I or participle II), nouns or adjectives.

Semi-complex sentences of direct linear expansion include sentences with attributive, adverbial and nominal complication. Semi-complex sentences of attributive complication are built up by means of two base sentences, one of which is transformed into a semi-predicative post-positional attribute to the antecedent element in the matrix sentence, e.g.: The girl crying in the hall looked familiar to me. ß The girl looked familiar to me. + The girl was crying. The shared semantic element performs the function of a subject in the insert sentence, which is dropped out in the process of semi-clausaliation (de-predication); in the matrix sentence it may perform any substantive function (it is a subject in the example above). Being linear expansions, attributive semi-clauses are easily restored to the related attributive pleni-clauses with verbal or nominal predicates, e.g.: The girl crying in the hall looked familiar to me. ß The girl, who was crying in the hall, looked familiar to me; You behave like a schoolboy afraid of his teacher. ß You behave like a schoolboy who is afraid of his teacher.

Semi-complex sentences of adverbial complication are derived from two base sentences, one of which, the insert sentence, is predicatively reduced (phrasalized) and embedded into an adverbial position of the other one, the matrix sentence, e.g.: When asked about her family, she blushed.ß She was asked about her family. + She blushed. Adverbial complication can be either conjoint or absolute: if the subject of the insert sentence is identical with the subject of the matrix sentence, it is deleted and a conjoint adverbial semi-clause is built, as in the example above; otherwise, the subject remains and an absolute adverbial construction is built, e.g.: The weather being fine, we decided to have a walk. ß The weather was fine. + We decided to have a walk; I won’t speak with him staring at me like that. ß I won’t speak. + He is staring at me. The partial predicate in an adverbial semi-clause is expressed by a participle (in so-called participial adverbial constructions), or is dropped, if it is the pure link verb to be (except for impersonal sentences, in which the verb to be is not deleted), e.g.: A child of seven, he was already an able musician. ß He was a child of seven. + He was already an able musician; I can’t sleep with the radio on. ß The radio is on. + I can’t sleep.

Semi-complex sentences of nominal complication are derived from two base sentences, one of which, the insert sentence, is partially nominalized (changed into a verbid phrase with an infinitive or a gerund) and embedded in one of the nominal positions of the other sentence, the matrix. Like other types of linear complication, infinitive and gerundial nominal semi-clauses are easily transformed into related fully-predicative subordinate clauses (nominal or adverbial), e.g.: I sent the papers in order for you to study them carefully before the meeting. à I sent the papers so that you could study them carefully before the meeting; We expected him to write a letter to you. à We expected that he would write a letter to you. The specific features of nominal semi-clauses are connected with the specific features of the infinitive and the gerund (see Unit 11); for example, the infinitive after a subordinative conjunction implies modal meanings of obligation, possibility, etc., e.g.: The question is what to do next. à The question is what we should do next; I sent the papers in order for you to study them carefully before the meeting. à I sent the papers so that you could study them carefully before the meeting; or, gerundial nominal constructions may be introduced by prepositions and may include a noun in the genitive or a possessive pronoun, e.g.: I can’t approve of his hiding himself away.

 

The semi-compound sentence, as was mentioned above, is a semi-composite sentence built on the principle of coordination (parataxis). Paradigmatically, the semi-compound sentence is built by two or more base sentences, which have an identical subject or an identical predicate (or both); in the process of semi-compounding, the two predicative lines overlap around the common element, the other principal parts being coordinated. For example, sentences with coordinated (homogeneous) predicates are derived from two or more base sentences having identical subjects; they build a poly-predicate subject-sharing type of semi-compound sentence, e.g.: She entered the room and closed the door behind her. ß She entered the room. + She closed the door behind her. One of the base sentences, as the example shows, becomes the leading clause of the semi-compound sentence, and the other one is transformed into the sequential coordinate semi-clause (expansion), referring to the same subject.

As for coordinated homogeneous subjects referring to the same predicate (building a poly-subject predicate-sharing type of semi-compound sentence), not all of them build separate predicative lines, but only those which are discontinuously positioned, or those which are connected adversatively, or contrastingly, or are detached in some other way, e.g.: Tom is participating in this project, and Jack too; Tom, not Jack, is participating in this project.ß Tom is participating in this project. + Jack is (not) participating in this project. Coordinated subjects connected in a plain syntagmatic string (syndetically or asyndetically) do not form separate predicative lines with the predicate, but are connected with it as a group subject; this is shown by the person and number form of the predicate, cf.: Tom and Jack are participating in this project.

The coordinative connections between the parts of semi-compound sentences are the same as the connections in compound sentences proper: unmarked coordination is expressed by the purely copulative conjunction and or by the zero coordinator; marked coordination includes the relations of disjunction (alteration), consequence, elucidation, adversative relations, etc. (see Unit 27).

Semi-compound sentences are transformable into related pleni-compound sentences with identical subjects or identical predicates, but such transformations show the functional differences between the two types of constructions. In particular, their actual division is different: the actual division of the compound sentence presents two informative perspectives joined in a complex, while the semi-compound sentence presents one perspective with a complex rheme. Besides, the repetition of an identical subject or predicate in a compound sentence makes it a communicatively intense, emotionally accented syntactic structure, cf.: I can’t work, I can’t think, I can’t be, because of me (Murdoch).

Besides semi-composite sentences proper, there are sentences of primitivized type, which include no secondary predicative constructions, but can still be traced to two situational events (they are sometimes treated as sentences with some “traces”, or “hints” of secondary predication, or with “covert secondary predication”); for example, in cases where one of the base sentences is fully nominalized, e.g.: The victory of the team caused a sensation. ß The team won. + It caused a sensation; or in cases of inner cumulation in syntactic constructions with detached nominative parts, e.g.: He was a very nice man, except with his wife. ß He was a very nice man. + He wasn’t a nice man with his wife.

 


Date: 2015-02-03; view: 3161


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