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Thread: free/freely 2

  1. #1
    svartnik is offline Banned
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    free/freely 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Soup View Post
    OK. But from a linguistic point of view, how can an adjective post-modify a subject of a non-copular structure?
    That is a good question.

    1. I was born wild. = SVC
    2. Dogs run free = SV ('free' is not an obligatory constituent (adjunct))

    The two sentences have completely different syntax.

    1.
    I = S
    was = V; copula ('be' always performs copular function); auxiliary
    born (to be) wild = C; born = past participle form of 'bear', adjective; '(to be) wild' = truncated adjective complement in the predication.

    (to be) wild is a truncated non-finite sub-clause. Its subject is understood (I), thus not explicit. 'be' is the copula, 'wild' is a predicate adjective in the sub-clause.

    To recap, in 'I was born wild', 'wild' is an adjective in the non-finite sub-clause.
    ---

    2. Dogs run free.

    'Dogs run free' looks somewhat like 'Dogs are free' (SVC; C = adj).

    Adjectives can be categorized according to their relative position to what they modify:


    Attributive: nice apple
    predicative: the apple is nice
    postpositive: the president elect

    Not even remotely similar is the syntax of #2 to the above categories.
    free has an adjectival flavor to my taste, but I cannot account for the reason.

    Anybody?

  2. #2
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    Re: free/freely 2

    Well here goes my attempt: just as phonetic oppositions form the basis of perception and interpretation in phonology, so too can semantic oppositions (as in Greimas, Sémantique structurale) influence the donation of meaning to utterances.

    In this case, free vs freely represents a morophological opposition leading to a semantic distinction: free must not be an adverb, however often it may appear to be used as one, so when we hear "Dogs run free" I believe we assess the possibility that free is an adverb modifying "run" as a low probability, in favour of the better likelihood that it actually modifies the noun "dog." Ergo, an adjectival flavour.

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    svartnik is offline Banned
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    Re: free/freely 2

    Thanks, Peter

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    Well here goes my attempt: just as phonetic oppositions form the basis of perception and interpretation in phonology, so too can semantic oppositions (as in Greimas, Sémantique structurale) influence the donation of meaning to utterances.


    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    In this case, free vs freely represents a morophological opposition leading to a semantic distinction: free must not be an adverb, however often it may appear to be used as one, so when we hear "Dogs run free" I believe we assess the possibility that free is an adverb modifying "run" as a low probability, in favour of the better likelihood that it actually modifies the noun "dog." Ergo, an adjectival flavour.
    free must not be an adverb
    Pourquoi the semantic distinction?

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    svartnik is offline Banned
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    Re: free/freely 2

    Is syntax not enough to explain the sentence?

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    Re: free/freely 2

    Quote Originally Posted by svartnik View Post
    Is syntax not enough to explain the sentence?
    To explain its hermeneutical reception, no, I would think not. The perplexing thing about the sentence lies essentially in the disjunction between its semantical and syntactical dimensions, so I'd say semantic theory has to be allowed in.

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    Re: free/freely 2

    Quote Originally Posted by svartnik View Post
    Thanks, Peter

    Pourquoi the semantic distinction?
    Why does it exist or why is it made here? I think it's made here because we assume Grice's law of quality is followed -- not just in the veracity of the statement, but in the competence of the speaker. Does that make any sense?

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    Re: free/freely 2

    Hi svartnik

    These are great examples of ellipsis:

    1. I was born (a) wild (child).
    2. I was born to be (a) wild (child).

    (Note that, a non-ellipsis reading admits a difference in meaning:

    1. I was born wild. Cf. I was born happy.)
    2. I was born to be wild. Cf. I was born to be happy.)
    As for this structure,

    3. Dogs run free.

    if free could in fact function adjectivally, the meaning would be free dogs run, a different meaning from dogs run free.

    The simple answer is this. Free is short of freely, an adverb.

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    Re: free/freely 2

    I don't think it is so simple. It's not interpreted as denoting the manner in which the dogs run, but signifies the very concept of freedom as it is associated with the dogs.

    Syntax is not, in this case, the interpretative key to the utterance. In fact, examining the syntax too closely leads you to miss the pack for the dog.

    So there is a difference of opinion on the matter.

  9. #9
    svartnik is offline Banned
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    Re: free/freely 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Soup View Post
    Hi svartnik

    These are great examples of ellipsis:

    1. I was born (a) wild (child).
    2. I was born to be (a) wild (child).

    (Note that, a non-ellipsis reading admits a difference in meaning:

    1. I was born wild. Cf. I was born happy.)
    2. I was born to be wild. Cf. I was born to be happy.)
    As for this structure,

    3. Dogs run free.

    if free could in fact function adjectivally, the meaning would be free dogs run, a different meaning from dogs run free.

    The simple answer is this. Free is short of freely, an adverb.
    This is what I thought first and I cannot pick a hole in what you say. Nor can I in this:
    Dogs run free = dogs are free? (svartnik's (a notable grammarian ) copula test )

    Nietzsche comes to mind: "There are no facts, only interpretations"

    Thanks for the info.

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    katerina.pata is offline Junior Member
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    Re: free/freely 2

    I thank you all for such a long discussion about my question...
    Before I asked, I had not expected it to be such a complicated issue
    So thanks again

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