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    • Join Date: Mar 2009
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    #1

    Zero subject

    Here's one for the pros:

    Can you describe the acceptable context in English in which a relative clause that is not an imperative can have a subject in the zero form [i.e., a subject that is missing]?

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    #2

    Re: Zero subject

    There is, to the best of my knowledge, no possibility of such a construction in standard English.

    Furthermore, relative clauses may not be predicated by imperative verb-forms.

    What is the point of this question??


    • Join Date: Mar 2009
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    #3

    Re: Zero subject

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    There is, to the best of my knowledge, no possibility of such a construction in standard English.

    Furthermore, relative clauses may not be predicated by imperative verb-forms.

    What is the point of this question??
    The point of the question is to test the academics in this organization.
    Any other takers? Come on, you pros. Think comment clause. Think verbs to do with
    cognition/communication.
    [I don't believe you can find the answer with a computer, because you have to find something that's not there. But maybe an academic could do it.]
    By the way, I'm talking about standard English.


    • Join Date: Dec 2009
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    #4

    Re: Zero subject

    Quote Originally Posted by gabber View Post
    The point of the question is to test the academics in this organization.
    Any other takers? Come on, you pros. Think comment clause. Think verbs to do with
    cognition/communication.
    [I don't believe you can find the answer with a computer, because you have to find something that's not there. But maybe an academic could do it.]
    By the way, I'm talking about standard English.
    Is this what you are talking about?

    11 Wh- movement in English


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    #5

    Re: Zero subject

    I have never heard about zero subject. I heard about empty subject, though. Are they the same?


    • Join Date: Mar 2009
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    #6

    Re: Zero subject

    Linguist,
    I don't know what <11 Wh- > means, as I'm not up on current ways of talking about English grammar. What I am talking about is a sentence like one of the following, in which I've plugged in the ZERO (in the first one) to show the unoccupied subject slot of the relative clause.
    I'll let you have the fun of analyzing the other two yourself.

    patriotic citizens trying to preserve a way of life ZERO they feel is under attack

    he entertains no regrets about executing former comrades he knows are innocent

    he joked with Mr. Van Zelst, a man some say belongs in jail

    //About a dozen of these sentence types turned up in issues of the New Yorker and the Book review of the Sunday New York Times from the years 1994-96. It's my impression that this zero use might not occur in ordinary dialogue, but only in fairly careful writing. //


    • Join Date: Mar 2009
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    #7

    Re: Zero subject

    Quote Originally Posted by Kondorosi View Post
    I have never heard about zero subject. I heard about empty subject, though. Are they the same?
    Kondorosi,
    You may be talking about what I call the <cleft sentence>, <anticipatory it>, or <prop it>. If you can find a Longman grammar, look those phrases up in the index.
    Good luck!


    • Join Date: Dec 2009
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    #8

    Re: Zero subject

    The link I posted gives similar examples:

    The people __ you saw.
    The place __ you met them.
    The movie __ you prefer.

    Everybody ___ lives in the mountains has an accent all to theirself.
    Three times a day some nurse ___ looks like Pancho Villa shoots [stuff] into my belly.


    There's a shortcut ___ takes you to the shops.
    It was John ___ told us about it.
    John is the person ___ could help you with that.


    It goes on to say that some grammarians say such sentences are grammatical, but should be avoided because they require greater processing demands. Others say that they aren't relative clauses at all.

    I don't have any problem with such sentences. I don't think I say them personally, but I probably wouldn't notice if I heard them. I'd notice more if I was reading something and came across it.

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    #9

    Re: Zero subject

    Everybody ___ lives in the mountains has an accent all to theirself.


    Hi!

    I wonder if the word theirself is correct. As far as I know the correct word should be themselves. Is there any context in which theirself might be correct or is it simply a mistake of spelling?

    Thank you.


    • Join Date: Dec 2009
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    #10

    Re: Zero subject

    Quote Originally Posted by Teia View Post
    Everybody ___ lives in the mountains has an accent all to theirself.


    Hi!

    I wonder if the word theirself is correct. As far as I know the correct word should be themselves. Is there any context in which theirself might be correct or is it simply a mistake of spelling?

    Thank you.
    I should have pointed out that these examples are taken from spoken conversations, and so won't be standard.

    Theirself and theirselves are both nonstandard (but they do exist) variations of the word 'themsleves'.

    All of the following is from dictionary.com:

    Theirself
    –pronoun Nonstandard. Chiefly Southern & South Midland U.S.
    Themselves.


    Also, theirselves.

    Usage Note:

    Speakers of some vernacular American dialects, particularly in the South, may use the possessive reflexive form hisself instead of himself (as in He cut hisself shaving) and theirselves or theirself for themselves (as in They found theirselves alone). These forms reflect the tendency of speakers of vernacular dialects to regularize irregular patterns found in the corresponding standard variety. In Standard English, the pattern of reflexive pronoun forms shows slightly irregular patterning; all forms but two are composed of the possessive form of the pronoun and -self or -selves, as in myself or ourselves. The exceptions are himself and themselves, which are formed by attaching the suffix -self/-selves to the object forms of he and they rather than their possessive forms. Speakers who use hisself and theirselves are smoothing out the pattern's inconsistencies by applying the same rule to all forms in the set. · A further regularization is the use of -self regardless of number, yielding the forms ourself and theirself. Using a singular form in a plural context may seem imprecise, but the plural meaning of ourself and theirself is made clear by the presence of the plural forms our- and their-. Hisself and theirselves have origins in British English and are still prevalent today in vernacular speech in England.

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