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  1. #1
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    Default A specific term for this type of clause?

    Hello. I am a music student working on an undergraduate thesis project and I need help identifying a certain sentence structure The sentence is:

    Nineteen forty-one, I guess it must have been.

    The speaker of this sentence gives a rising inflection to the syllable "one," which, in english, generally constitutes a question. I need to be able to discuss this inflection, and the question-like properties of the sentence, but this is a bit triky to my somewhat limited knowledge of english structure. It becomes even trickier when you take into account that a sentence phrased like this one is not necessarily proper spoken english. It is more of a casual way in which people often speak. Obviously the sentence is neither a direct nor an indirect question. Are there any terms for a clause such as "I guess it must have been" that create a sense of questioning from an otherwise neutral statement such as "nineteen forty-one?"

    It may be kind of a long shot, but I thought maybe somebody out there could help!

    Thanks.
    Aaron

  2. #2
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: A specific term for this type of clause?

    Aaron wrote: It becomes even trickier when you take into account that a sentence phrased like this one is not necessarily proper spoken english. It is more of a casual way in which people often speak.

    Hi Aaron. Let's deal with what you wrote here first. Your example is perfectly proper spoken English. Casual English doesn't mean improper English. That's an old canard that has been perpetuated by people who never really looked at how language works.

    The Cambridge Grammar of English states it like this:

    "It's not that formal style keeps to the rules and informal departs from them; rather, formal and informal styles have partially different rules."



    reeves: Hello. I am a music student working on an undergraduate thesis project and I need help identifying a certain sentence structure The sentence is:

    Nineteen forty-one, I guess it must have been.

    The speaker of this sentence gives a rising inflection to the syllable "one," which, in english, generally constitutes a question. I need to be able to discuss this inflection, and the question-like properties of the sentence, but this is a bit tricky to my somewhat limited knowledge of english structure.

    Obviously the sentence is neither a direct nor an indirect question. Are there any terms for a clause such as "I guess it must have been" that create a sense of questioning from an otherwise neutral statement such as "nineteen forty-one?"

    It may be kind of a long shot, but I thought maybe somebody out there could help!

    You could probably think of a number of scenarios for this. Strong inflection on 'one' may not be a sign of a question at all. It could be that 'one' is the year that is the most questionable in the speaker's mind, ie. it's in the forties but which year???

    I'll caution you against thinking that you can find what you need in traditional/prescriptive grammar. It has the dubious honor of being a study that studied very little about how language actually works.

    There may be a term for this in the field of Pragmatics, the study of language and meaning. As I mentioned, given different contexts, this sentence could have a number of meanings.

    Why not just try thinking of different scenarios and describing them. As a native speaker you have that ability within you even if you don't know the first thing about the terminology of sentence structure. Good luck!

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