modification

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Taka

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The sentence:

His music is not impossible to understand on the basic level for a Russian or French person.

About "for a Russian or French person", which does it modify, "the basic level" or "impossible"?
 

MikeNewYork

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Taka said:
The sentence:

His music is not impossible to understand on the basic level for a Russian or French person.

About "for a Russian or French person", which does it modify, "the basic level" or "impossible"?
This is an interesting problem. It is not uncommon to run into difficulties with serial prepositional phrases and other modifiers.

I would say that logically the phrase modifies "impossible" and that it is, therefore, misplaced in the sentence.

I would prefer His music is not impossible for a Russian or French person
to understand on the basic level.
 

Tdol

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You could also shove 'on the basic level' to the start of the sentence.;-)
 

Taka

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Thank you, teachers!
 
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wunaide

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The sentence:

His music is not impossible to understand on the basic level for a Russian or French person.

About "for a Russian or French person", which does it modify, "the basic level" or "impossible"?
The phrase "for a Russian or French person" does not modify anything and is not part of any modifying element.

Modification is used to specify the characteristics of a "Thing". (Note that the word Thing refers to the functional element of the clause and not to the physical entity or entities designated by the specific nomenclature.)

For example, in the following (Imperative) clauses, the Thing is "books", which has been shown having undergone progressively more modification. This type of modification is known as Premodification (pre - before the "thing") and is done according to the conventional ordering of the various categories of Premodifier in English.

Give me the books!
Premodification of books using the deictic the

Give me the two books!
...using the deictic the + the numerative two

Give me the two red books!
...using the deictic the + the numerative two + the epithet red

Give me the two red English books!
...using the deictic the + the numerative two + the epithet red + the classifier English

As can be seen above, Premodification results in expansion of the Nominal Group (the books becomes the two red English books).

A characteristic of English is that one can also postmodify Nominal Groups. This is done by addition of an embedded clause from which "that" may or may not be ellipted.

For example, in the Clause Complex

Give me the two big red English books (that) I lent you yesterday!

the Embedded Clause "(that) I lent you yesterday" postmodifies the Nominal Group "the two red English books" (which of course also contains the already mentions predomifications).

(Why do we refer to this as an "Embedded Clause? - because the Verbal Group it contains has no relevance to any "action" or "event", and is concerned only with modification. This might be something that is very important for students to take note of. Compare the function of the Verbal Group (lent) in the two clauses I lent you books yesterday with give me the books that I lent you yesterday. The first refers directly to an "action" or "event"; the second does not.)


I refer back to the original sentence:

His music is not impossible to understand on the basic level for a Russian or French person.

This is a single clause and involves an A is B type construction (A Relational Attributive Clause - an R.A. Clause -for the pedantic such as myself). More meaning can be imbued into the clause by providing "circumstances" under which the proposition governed by the Verbal Group holds true. In this case, the Circumstances are on the basic level and for a Russian or French person.

That is

A (His music)
is
B ( not impossible to understand; B in this case also contains embedding)
+ The Circumstances (on the basic level; for a Russian or French person).

Thus for a Russian or French person and on the basic level are functionally equivalent in the sentence, and give information about the Verbal Group is.

(To check this try:

His music is - on the basic level, for a Russian or French person - not impossible to understand.

Here you can quite clearly see the role of the Circumstance(s), which is to provide information relating to the Verbal Group. Although this is probably more representative of spoken rather than written English, the functional relationships are clear.)

Another writer might prefer a structurally different approach. For example in the offering

His music is not impossible for a Russian or French person
to understand on the basic level.


there are two clauses.


1. His music is not impossible for a Russian or French person
Finite Independent R.A. (A is B) Clause
(The Circumstance for a Russian or French Person gives information about the Verbal Group is.)

2. to understand on the basic level.
Nonfinite Clause
(The Circumstance on the basic level gives information about the Verbal Group to understand.)

It's for the reader and/or writer to decide which particular arrangement renders the highest degree of clarity.
 
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MikeNewYork

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tdol said:
You could also shove 'on the basic level' to the start of the sentence.;-)
That is also good.:cool:
 

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MikeNewYork

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wunaide said:
The phrase "for a Russian or French person" does not modify anything and is not part of any modifying element.

Modification is used to specify the characteristics of a "Thing". (Note that the word Thing refers to the functional element of the clause and not to the physical entity or entities designated by the specific nomenclature.)

For example, in the following (Imperative) clauses, the Thing is "books", which has been shown having undergone progressively more modification. This type of modification is known as Premodification (pre - before the "thing") and is done according to the conventional ordering of the various categories of Premodifier in English.

Give me the books!
Premodification of books using the deictic the

Give me the two books!
...using the deictic the + the numerative two

Give me the two red books!
...using the deictic the + the numerative two + the epithet red

Give me the two red English books!
...using the deictic the + the numerative two + the epithet red + the classifier English

As can be seen above, Premodification results in expansion of the Nominal Group (the books becomes the two red English books).

A characteristic of English is that one can also postmodify Nominal Groups. This is done by addition of an embedded clause from which "that" may or may not be ellipted.

For example, in the Clause Complex

Give me the two big red English books (that) I lent you yesterday!

the Embedded Clause "(that) I lent you yesterday" postmodifies the Nominal Group "the two red English books" (which of course also contains the already mentions predomifications).

(Why do we refer to this as an "Embedded Clause? - because the Verbal Group it contains has no relevance to any "action" or "event", and is concerned only with modification. This might be something that is very important for students to take note of. Compare the function of the Verbal Group (lent) in the two clauses I lent you books yesterday with give me the books that I lent you yesterday. The first refers directly to an "action" or "event"; the second does not.)


I refer back to the original sentence:

His music is not impossible to understand on the basic level for a Russian or French person.

This is a single clause and involves an A is B type construction (A Relational Attributive Clause - an R.A. Clause -for the pedantic such as myself). More meaning can be imbued into the clause by providing "circumstances" under which the proposition governed by the Verbal Group holds true. In this case, the Circumstances are on the basic level and for a Russian or French person.

That is

A (His music)
is
B ( not impossible to understand; B in this case also contains embedding)
+ The Circumstances (on the basic level; for a Russian or French person).

Thus for a Russian or French person and on the basic level are functionally equivalent in the sentence, and give information about the Verbal Group is.

(To check this try:

His music is - on the basic level, for a Russian or French person - not impossible to understand.

Here you can quite clearly see the role of the Circumstance(s), which is to provide information relating to the Verbal Group. Although this is probably more representative of spoken rather than written English, the functional relationships are clear.)

Another writer might prefer a structurally different approach. For example in the offering



there are two clauses.


1. His music is not impossible for a Russian or French person
Finite Independent R.A. (A is B) Clause
(The Circumstance for a Russian or French Person gives information about the Verbal Group is.)

2. to understand on the basic level.
Nonfinite Clause
(The Circumstance on the basic level gives information about the Verbal Group to understand.)

It's for the reader and/or writer to decide which particular arrangement renders the highest degree of clarity.
That is an interesting and detailed analysis. I'm not sure why you toook issue with the word "modifier". By definition, prepositional phreases are modifiers. You have used the words "gives information about" and that is one function of a modifier.

I live in a house on a hill. "On a hill" gives information about/modifies "House".

I agree that "on the basic level" is connected to "to understand". As an infinitive, "to understand" can take adverbial modifiers and I would consider "on the basic level" to be an adverbial modifier of "to understand".

You seem to be making a case that "for a Russian or French person" modifies the linking verb "is". I think, however, that it is more logical to see the prepositional phrase as limiting the range of what is "not impossible". In that sense, I would describe the phrase as modifying "impossible". Others, of course, will see things a bit differently.

Also, I agree that some people see "to understand on a basic level" as a non-finite clause. Others would call it an infinitive phrase.
 

Taka

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Thank you! :-D
 
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wunaide

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That is an interesting and detailed analysis.
In fact it is the functionally correct analysis.



I'm not sure why you toook issue with the word "modifier".
Because it had been misused.



By definition, prepositional phreases are modifiers.
By whose definition? From a functional perspective, prepositional phrases are most definitely not modifiers, though they can be part of an embedded clause, which - as I took pains to point out - postmodifies a Nominal Group.

eg. He took the money <<that was sitting on the desk>> .

The prepositional phrase on a hill in the clause I live in a house on a hill is in fact is part of the embedded clause that is on a hill.

The that is has merely been ellipted. Ellipsis is common in English, and I'm sorry but I have no time right now to go through the many and obvious examples of this. If you are unsure about this, post again on the topic and I'll be glad to assist.

In fact you have proved to us both that the PP on a house in your example most certainly is part of a heavily ellipted embedded clause, because otherwise you would be claiming that the proposition is I live - on a hill - in a house.



You have used the words "gives information about" and that is one function of a modifier.
Incorrect. I really don't have time to waste in arguing against something so obviously wrong. Do you have access to a dictionary?



Also, I agree that some people see "to understand on a basic level" as a non-finite clause. Others would call it an infinitive phrase.
From a functional perspective, any Verbal Group not acting as part of a modifying element is part of a rank level clause (ie does not include "weaker" postmodifying embedded clauses, which function only as part of a rank level clause - ie they are embedded within rank level clauses) and with the exception of those that are part of embedding (ie part of a modifyier) every rank level clause contains one and only one Verbal Group.



I totally agree with Mike.
That is your prerogative.



Thanks for your comments.
 
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Taka

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Modification

Modification means to change or add to the meaning of something. Adjectives, adverbs, nouns, phrases, and clauses all act as modifiers. They give more information or describe other words in a sentence. Modifiers must be placed as close as possible to the word or words they modify, or the sentence may be confusing.

Examples:

Prepositional phrase modifier:

There is a lovely vase of roses on the table.

Adjective modifier:

The vase was filled with sweet smelling, fresh lavender roses.

Adverb clause modifier:

While you were at the store, I placed a vase of fresh roses on the table for you


http://oregonstate.edu/dept/eli/buswrite/modifiers.html
 
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wunaide

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Paper bag modifier: something the grocer puts the apples in. Clearly you are happy calling everything and anything a modifier.

I won't waste my time bickering over semantics, but I would like to point out to you that your implication that the three underlined groups of words in the Clause Complexes above are functionally identical is clearly, categorically and incontestably wrong.

If you would like me to provide a correct and clear functional analysis for each of the Clause Complexes written above, I will do so. Ask and ye shall receive. I am interested only in function, and not in quibbling over the terminologies of pedagogically useless and academically moribund parsing grammars.

I should also add that it is of absolutely no consequence to me what some academic careers might have been founded on and continue to depend on.
 

Francois

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If you would like me to provide a correct and clear functional analysis for each of the Clause Complexes written above, I will do so
Yes, I would be interested if you had the time.

FRC
 

Taka

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MikeNewYork

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wunaide said:
In fact it is the functionally correct analysis.

As I said, your comments are interesting, albeit odd. Nevertheless you are entitled to your opinions. :shock:
 
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wunaide

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Thank you for your interest and your patience. I will do my best to provide a clear analysis in the coming days.
 
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