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  1. #1
    suzie-lola is offline Newbie
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    Default Constituency Testing

    Hi Everyone!
    I am currently completing some university homework and It involves constituency tests, could anyone help me by checking what I have done so far as I have a few to do but dont want to continue until I know I have got it right!
    This is what I have so far:

    Would you mind if I checked that I am completing the tests correctly?
    If not then please see below the testing that I have done so far:
    Constituency Tests:


    i. The businessmen ran up a huge bill.
    ii. The children ran up a long alleyway.



    Is “Up a huge bill” a constituent in (i):

    Replacement of constituent:

    a) With a proform:

    The businessmen ran [up a huge bill]. → The businessmen ran it.

    Conclusion: [up a huge bill] is a constituent on this test.


    b) Echo question:

    The businessmen ran [up a huge bill]. → The businessmen ran WHAT?
    Conclusion: [up a huge bill] is a constituent on this test.


    Sentence Fragments (response to a question):

    Q. What did the businessmen run?
    A. [Up a huge bill].

    Conclusion: [up a huge bill] is a constituent on this test.


    Cleft sentence:

    The businessmen ran [up a huge bill].
    → It is [up a huge bill] that the businessmen ran. x

    Conclusion: [up a huge bill] is not a constituent on this test.

    Pseudo- cleft sentence:

    The businessmen ran [up a huge bill]. → What some businessmen run is [up a huge
    bill.] x
    Conclusion: [Up a huge bill] is not a constituent on this test.


    Hopefully this is correct ?

    Thanks very much!

  2. #2
    corum is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Constituency Testing

    I cast a quick glance at your sentences and I thought the task was about to prove in #1 that run and up belong together (verb plus particle), while in #2 that we have a verb plus a transitive preposition.
    Your first replacement test does not work, in my humble opinion. If you substitute the proform for the string of words after 'run', the meaning will not be the same anymore. It is important to note with regard to your tests that they work in one way. This means if your test confirms your initial assumption, it means you were right. If your test does not corroborate your theory, you are not necessarily wrong.

    The proform replacement test should look like this:

    The businessman run up a huge bill.

    I suspect that the sentence should be carved up into constituents as the brackets show:

    [The businessman] [run up] [a huge bill].
    The businessman run it up.

    RNR. Do you know what that is? Right node raising. This is a test for NP constituency, and a right movement. It looks like this:

    The businessman run up _, and her wife agreed to foot _, the bill.

    What did you run up?
    A huge bill!

    It is a huge bill that he run up.

    HE [run up] a huge bill.
    He [incurred] a huge bill.

    ----------------------

    My assumption vis-a-vis #2 (is the mother of all...) is this:

    They run [down the alleyway].
    They run up the alleyway.
    They run there.
    It is up the hill that they run.
    Up the hill they run.
    Up a bill the businessman run.
    Peter run up the hill, and Marta (run) down the lane. -- run and down are not married.


    down the alleyway --> PP

  3. #3
    suzie-lola is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Constituency Testing

    Hi Corum,

    Thanks for your detailed reply!
    That definitely clarifies the first sentence: I now know that 'up a huge bill' is not a constituent due to the connection between 'run' and 'up'.

    I now must test whether
    i. [ran up a huge bill]
    and
    ii. [ran up a long alleyway]

    are constituents in the sentences :

    The businessmen ran up a huge bill

    The children ran up a long alleyway

    However I am having real trouble trying to apply the tests to these sections that we have been asked to test as they themselves are the majority of the sentences! (hope that makes sense)

    It is essential that I apply:
    The proform test,
    The echo test,
    The 'response to a question' test
    The cleft test
    and finally- the pseudo cleft test!

    In applying these for the 1st potential constituent [ran up a huge bill] I found:

    Proform test: The businessmen it?
    Conc: this does not work!

    Echo test: The businessmen what?
    'ran up a huge bill'
    Conc: This works!

    Response to a question:
    The businessmen did what?
    Ran up a huge bill
    conc: this works!

    Cleft test:
    It was [ran up a huge bill] that the businessmen did.
    Conc: this clearly does not work!

    Pseudo-cleft test:
    What the businessmen did is run up a huge bill
    Conc: this is on the verge of distorting the meaning of the sentence.

    So the testing in some cases prove that [ran up a huge bill] is a constituent but in others does not- and actually sounds rather odd in some of these cases! Would you say that this is normal for the results to differ from test to test?

    Sorry for writing an essay!
    Thanks again for all your help= massively appreciate it.

    Suzie

  4. #4
    corum is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Constituency Testing

    Quote Originally Posted by corum View Post
    Up the hill they run.
    Up a bill the businessman run.
    This is called topicalization, the displacement of a phrase, here a PP, to sentence initial position. 'up a bill' fronted leads to an ungrammatical sentence, which means it can't be a phrase, a constituent. 'up the hill' is okay, which means it is a PP. This test alone is sufficient to see what we have (constituency tests work in one way).

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