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Hi, Grammar is a pain in my neck. But your smile is very big and bright.
Have a great day!
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Wow, so many daffodils! Thank you very much! You make me a day!
In Mandarin, we don't have the similar express. We say it is my "headache".
Daffodils are the symbol of my hometown, which is located in southeast province and is very close to Taiwan and Japan. Now I am in Shanghai.
Whenever traditional Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) draws near, local people always greet her to their homes happily.
This is our arts of daffodils.
Last edited by thedaffodils; 08-Jun-2008 at 17:30.
Yeah. You and the other folks here are all too nice. Thank you very much for your correction of my words.
Relative clauses where the antecedent (in this case the noun “daughter”) is indefinite (in this case, accompanied by the indefinite article “a”) have a particular status of their own if they are non-generic (i.e if they refer to something in particular rather than something in general).
With this type of relative clause, the distinction between defining and non-defining is neutralised. In most cases, ( 1) they have the syntax of a defining clause but (2) they can function either (a) in a way that is similar to that of a defining clause (b) or else like a non-defining clause.
1) The syntax of a defining clause: In the written form there is no comma. In the spoken form, the antecedent + relative clause form a single block: they belong to the same intonation group (to simplify things considerably, one could compare an intonation group to a bar of music); you cannot split them up and have the antecedent in one group and the relative in the next). So, you could visualise your structure like this: //…. a daughter who became a doctor//, where the slashes are the boundaries of the intonation group.
2a) They function in a way that is similar to that of a defining clause: When the antecedent is accompanied by the definite article (or a demonstrative (this/that) or a possessive detrminer: his/her etc), the person you’re talking to (the co-speaker) is already in a position to know who or what you’re talking about, they just need the help of a defining relative clause to help them to identify that thing or person they’ve alreay heard about. If I say “The man whose daughter became a doctor is called Mr Brown”, then I’ve already told you about the man whose daughter became a doctor. I’m just using the relative clause to help you to know which man I’m talking about.
But, with a relative clause that has an indefinite antecedent (like the one you quote above), the co-speaker has no idea who the speaker is talking about until the speaker defines that person. And the speaker does the defining by means of the relative clause. He introduces the concept of that person (or thing) for the first time. “I’ve got a friend who is a doctor.”
So certain types of relative clauses with indefinite antecedents have a defining function, not for purposes of immediate identification but for the purpose of introducing a concept (which will serve to help identify the person or thing later on.)
2b) They can function like a non-defining clause. Grammar books often say that non-defining clauses give extra information that is non-essential. In fact, their function is to help the co-speaker make sense of a passage. Without the relative clause, the co-speaker would be bewildered and would ask himself all sorts of questions, Howcome ? Why? What ever’s going on? etc Take the following sentence (sorry I haven’t got a more simple one but it’s the first one that comes to hand.):
I got a job in a factory which made lawn mowers. Bits o f lawn-mower came along on moving racks and you had to tighten up the nuts with a machine like a drill on the end of a moving cable.
If it weren’t for the relative clause, the reader wouldn’t know why on earth bits of lawn mower came along etc
There is one other type of relative clause which is distinguishable from the ones we’ve been discussing. This is the relative clause – also with an indefinite antecedent – which does not define the antecedent. This type of relative clause has, exceptionally, the syntax of a non-defining relative clause, marked by a comma: as it therefore opens a new intonation group, it conveys in this manner the implicit message that the speaker has finished defining the antecedent and that the contents of the relative clause represent new information. Take the following example:
In the picnic basket there was a cold roast chicken, which we hungrily devoured.
The fact that we hungrily devoured the chicken does not help to define the chicken.
To recapitulate: With the non-generic relative clause with an indefinite antecedent, the distinction between defining and non-defining is neutralised. Depending on the intention of the speaker/writer:
-it can have the syntax and intonation properties of either a defining or a non-defining relative;
-also, it can have either a function similar to that of a defining relative or else the function of a non-defining relative.
A remark concerning intonation: the pause sometimes mentioned by grammarians as coinciding with the comma in a non-defining relative is not a reliable indication of the start of a new intonation group. Pauses can and do occur even within the boundaries of an intonation group. The pause is not significant.
Can one teach all this complex information to high school children or adult language learners? My answer would be no. Personally I think the only important thing about the relative clause for this type of student to know is the difference between a properly restrictive relative clause and a non-restrictive one as in, for example:
The children who had finished their homework were allowed to leave early. (defining and restrictive)
The children, who had finished their homework, were allowed to leave early (non-defining and non-restrictive)
because there is a difference in meaning between the two.
In answer to your second question (Q2. “When you hear these sentences separately, do you recognize the difference in meaning? If so, how? Do you put a pause between the clauses? (It's quite hard for me to decide which(defining/non-defining) when they are spoken.)
-From the above discussion you can see
(i) that there is no difference in meaning between the two sentences you quote (re Mr Brown’s daughter). If the writer puts a comma where it shouldn’t belong, it’s his problem, not the reader’s.
(ii) that the pause is not significant.
-When the two types of relatives (defining/non-defining) are spoken, you can hear the difference. At the beginning of an intonation group, a new pitch sequence is initiated and this is perceived by the co-speaker (although she will most likely not be aware of it on a conscious level). As non-defining relative clauses coincide with new intonation groups and defining ones do not, the co-speaker is thus aware of the difference without having to make a conscious effort to do so.
There is some evidence that this could be a universal*.
CRUTTENDEN, A., Intonation, Cambridge, CUP, 1986, Chapter 3 ; *p. 147-148 ; *p. 167.
FUCHS, C., MILNER, J. A propos des relatives. Etude empirique des faits français, anglais et allemands et tentative d’interprétation. En collaboration avec LE GOFFIC, P., Paris : Société d’études linguistiques et anthropologiques de France, 1979.
MALAN, N., La proposition relative en anglais contemporain. Une approche pragmatique. Gap/Paris, Ophrys, 1999, pp.19-22.
Last edited by naomimalan; 12-Jun-2008 at 19:40. Reason: Mistake corrected in last paragraph
Thank you for the detailed explanation, Naomi!
I'll never forget your kindness.