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    #1

    syntactical questions

    Hi teachers

    1) She left him holding the baby.

    who is holding the baby "she" or "him"?

    2) What is the difference between these two phrases:

    A) President Clinton counselor former

    B) former President Clinton counselor



    many thanks in advance.


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    #2

    Re: syntactical questions

    I think in the first one you cannot really tell who holds the baby, because it all depends how you draw the syntactic tree. Can be both, this sentence has just two meanings, it's just the structural ambiguity in my opinion.

  1. Soup's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: syntactical questions

    Hi Aristotle

    1)
    She left him [he was] holding the baby.

    Sorry, but I don't know what the Clinton phrases are supposed to mean.

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    #4

    Re: syntactical questions

    I'd like to thank both of you,cat's_eyes and teacher Soup.

    regarding the second question,
    I mean which phrase is better to talk about a former counselor(adviser) during Clinton's era(epoch).



    an example:
    I met the former President Clinton's counselor.

    I met the President Clinton's counselor former.


    and if any of the sentences is correct, when to use the other?

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    #5

    Re: syntactical questions

    Hey Soup, is there a reason why I can't put:
    She left him {she was} holding the baby.

    ??
    I know we say this a lot, and mean he was left with the 'baby', but acually, it is a bit ambiguous, is it not?

    She left him holding her head high.

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    #6

    Smile Re: syntactical questions

    1) She left him, holding the baby.
    Just put a comma after him, and the whole ambiguity disappears! She held the baby while she left him.

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    #7

    Re: syntactical questions

    any more answers?

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    #8

    Re: syntactical questions

    Hi Aristotle

    Ex: I met the former President Clinton's counselor.
    Ex: I met the former President's counselor.
    Ex: I metthe President Clinton's counselor former.

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    #9

    Re: syntactical questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedroski View Post
    Hey Soup, is there a reason why I can't put:
    She left him {she was} holding the baby.

    ??
    I know we say this a lot, and mean he was left with the 'baby', but ac[t]ually, it is a bit ambiguous, is it not?
    Yes, it is, and it's the unmarked, or default meaning that's interpreted--the meaning first thought of:

    Ex: The chicken is ready to eat.
    default: dinner is ready
    marked: it's hungry; go out to the barn and feed it
    Ex: She left him holding the baby.
    default: he was holding the baby
    marked: she was holding the baby
    The semantic subject of holding the baby refers back to the closest noun (in our example, him, not She) unless, that is, the semantic cues are otherwise:

    Ex: She left him holding her head up high.
    default: she was holding her head up high
    marked: not hers, but some other woman's head
    Aristotle's question was, Who is holding the baby, she or him? Without contextual cues, 'him' is the default reading, the first interpretation available. We could of course 'force' the meaning she was holding the baby, but wouldn't spoken cues like, intonation or a comma (See engee30's post above) make that more clear, thereby reducing the ambiguity?

    The reason behind my post (3#), if Aristotle's question is related to tree diagramming, then, yes, saying the sentence is ambiguous is helpful (See cat's_eyes' post #2)--Aristotle will be able to draw two trees. If, however, people reading this thread are interested in which of the two meanings is more obvious, and the reason why that is, then talking about its default meaning would be just as helpful.

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    #10

    Re: syntactical questions

    not hers, but some other woman's head


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