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can the second noun ever be the subject?
May 20, 2012 10:52 AM   Subscribe

[Language Processiong / Grammar Question] With a pattern of noun infinitive adjective noun verb infinitive, can the second noun ever be the subject of the verb? Bonus question (below the fold): In the second case does the adverb of the verb always determine the sentiment of the second noun?

I am making a foray into some language processing and I am looking for any case which invalidates what I am thinking might be a rule. With a pattern of noun infinitive adjective noun verb infinitive, can the second noun ever be the subject of the verb? Counter-examples welcome.

a: article
n: noun
i: infinitive
j: adjective
v: verb
r: adverb

As an example I using the word "new" as my key. For context I am examining words that are close (up to 4 before and 4 after) to that word.

"The vase over the new television fell on the [floor]."
"-4 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +4"
"a n i a j n v i a"

Effectively, this sentence is neutral to the word "new"


I could also write:
"The vase over the new television is better."
"-4 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +4"
" a n i a j n v r #"

In the latter case I am making a comparrison between (presumably) the vase and the television and I can say the sentence is negative to the word "new". In my mind I see the change from the infinitive to the verb as the driver for making "new" relevant to the meaning of the sentence.

Bonus question: In the second case does the adverb of the verb always determine the sentiment of the second noun?
posted by Nanukthedog to Writing & Language (6 answers total)
 
In both cases "over the new television" functions as a prepositional phrase modifying "vase" (like an adjective).

"New" modifies "television" in both sentences in the same way.
posted by desertface at 11:06 AM on May 20, 2012


gah!
'i' is the shorthand for preposition... I can feel the linguists readying their pitchforks. I have now written an entire question with the word infinitive instead of preposition... the pain...

I will stop now; although I still need to understand something on how the word "over" works....
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:07 AM on May 20, 2012


Inferred from your answer desertface: The prepositional phrase can never be the subject of the verb in the above sentence.

With that said, if the prepositional phrase is the target of the verb in the second sentence does the adverb indicates a level of ordinality between the root noun and the prepositional noun?
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:13 AM on May 20, 2012


Yes, because verbs can be attributive rather than predicative, and so can modify nouns.

For instance, consider "New Yorkers with small dogs yipping loudly [ruined the bake sale.]"

'Yipping' here is an attributive verb, so it functions as an adjective does.

Incidentally, 'better' in your second example is not an adverb. The 'is' is a copula.
posted by painquale at 12:37 PM on May 20, 2012


(Assuming I understand your follow-up right) If you are just talking about analysing strings, you will run into trouble with prepositional verbs and maybe other cases where prepositions that have been stranded to the end of a clause. So, for example, "Ever since I ran that man down, big cars haven't seemed very safe to me". You can get around this if the text you are processing is certain to contain punctuation marking the end of the clause, I guess.
posted by lollusc at 7:30 PM on May 20, 2012


Oh, and in case you think that example is okay because the string before the preposition is a NP, not a verb, a harder example to get around is something like "Because my friend came over, the new cookies disappeared fast."
posted by lollusc at 7:33 PM on May 20, 2012


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