The armed forces seeking to take control of the territory were brutal.

waverider

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- The armed forces seeking to take control of the territory were brutal.

What is the function/"parts of speech" of the words in bold?
- The armed forces (Subject)
- were (verb)
- brutal (adjective)
 

Phaedrus

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As a phrasal unit, the words in bold are a reduced relative clause whose function is to modify the noun phrase "armed forces."
  • The armed forces [that were] seeking to take control of the territory were brutal.
 

PaulMatthews

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- The armed forces seeking to take control of the territory were brutal.

What is the function/"parts of speech" of the words in bold?
- The armed forces (Subject)
- were (verb)
- brutal (adjective)
The armed forces seeking to take control of the territory were brutal.

The underlined expression is a gerund-participial clause modifying the nominal “armed forces”.

It is semantically similar to a relative clause, cf. the armed forces who sought/seek to take control of the territory.

Some people analyse it as a ‘reduced’ relative clause, but this is wrong since there is no possibility of it containing a relative phrase (cf. *armed forces who seeking to take control of the territory.)
 

5jj

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Some people analyse it as a ‘reduced’ relative clause, but this is wrong since there is no possibility of it containing a relative phrase (cf. *armed forces who seeking to take control of the territory.)
I assume that those who analyse it as a reduced relative clause see the possibility of armed forces who were seeking to take control of the territory.
 

PaulMatthews

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I assume that those who analyse it as a reduced relative clause see the possibility of armed forces who were seeking to take control of the territory.
I don’t like talking in terms of deletion of relative pronoun + "be" since the original example is not in fact equivalent to “armed forces who were seeking to take control of the territory” as opposed to “armed forces who sought/seek to take control of the territory”.
 
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5jj

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the original example is not in fact equivalent to “armed forces who were seeking to take control of the territory” as opposed to “armed forces who sought/seek to take control of the territory”.
How can you be sure of that?
 

Phaedrus

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I don’t like talking in terms of deletion of relative pronoun + "be" since the original example is not in fact equivalent to “armed forces who were seeking to take control of the territory” as opposed to “armed forces who sought/seek to take control of the territory”.
That's an interesting perspective. What do you make of the fact that an adverbial well-suited to the past progressive, such as "at that moment," can naturally be added to the "armed forces seeking" version and to the "armed forces that were seeking" version, but not to the "armed services that sought" version?

The armed forces seeking at that moment to take control of the territory were brutal.
The armed forces that were seeking at that moment to take control of the territory were brutal.

?* The armed forces that sought at that moment to take control of the territory were brutal.
 

Phaedrus

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Some people analyse it as a ‘reduced’ relative clause, but this is wrong since there is no possibility of it containing a relative phrase (cf. *armed forces who seeking to take control of the territory.)

It is possible for such phrases to contain relative pronouns. Consider the following:

The suspect seeking whom they found by the side of the railroad had already given the money away.

Explanation:
The suspect had already given the money away.
They found him by the side of the railroad.
They found him while they were seeking him.
 

jutfrank

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I honestly don't see much point in trying to analyse this until waverider can clarify the intended meaning. My feeling is that the sentence originally arose in waverider's mind as an expression of this thought:

The armed forces, seeking to take control of the territory, were brutal.

If that's the case, I'll argue that there is no semantic equivalent to a relative clause (whether that be who were seeking or who sought). My interpretation is that the gerund-participial clause is logically connected to the sentence meaning in that the armed forces' brutality was a result of their seeking to take control. You could head by at the beginning of the phrase to show this more clearly, and neither who were seeking or who sought are possible.

Of course, I may be misinterpreting the sentence. My point, though, is that if you want to syntactically analyse any real language in use properly, you ought to get the semantics nailed down first.
 

5jj

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It is possible for such phrases to contain relative pronouns. Consider the following:

The suspect seeking whom they found by the side of the railroad had already given the money away.
I find that most unnatural.
 

Phaedrus

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I find that most unnatural.
So do I, but I don't find it ungrammatical; and if it is grammatical, then it refutes PaulMatthews's suggestion that it is impossible for a "gerund-participial clause" noun modifier to contain a "relative phrase" (such as who or whom), thereby protecting the reduced-relative-clause analysis from that assault on its grammatical validity.
 

5jj

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5jj

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It's not.
Perhaps you could provide an example or two of The suspect seeking whom they found by the side of the railroad had already given the money away examples in literature or grammar books to show that it is accepted as grammatical.
 

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I shall, but it may take me a while to find syntactically analogous examples, and I suspect the sources will be ones you won't esteem highly, such as John Milton.
 

5jj

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As Milton died in 1674, and as his poetic language was heavily influenced by Latin, I shan't be too impressed if you come up with an example or two from his writing.

When I said "It's ungrammatical", I was thinking of the English of the last few decades or so.
 

Phaedrus

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I'm finishing up a reading of the King James Bible (1611), which I began on January 1, and just came upon an interesting use of a relative pronoun inside a "gerund-participial clause," as PaulMatthews calls them. The syntax is not precisely analogous, in that the "relative clause," if it may be called one, is nonrestrictive and has a verb phrase as the antecedent of the relative pronoun, "which" demonstratively standing for "passing through the Red sea as by dry land":

"By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned" (Hebrews 11:29).

"Which" clearly functions as the direct object of "do" in the "which"-clause. We could rephrase the "which"-clause like this: "which, assaying to do, the Egyptians were drowned." Alteratively, it could be rephrased like this: "assaying to do which, the Egyptians were drowned." And, by such contortions, we can, by extention, postulate a fairly close analogue of the construction under debate: "They did something assaying to do which the Egyptians were drowned." :)
 

waverider

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The armed forces seeking to take control of the territory were brutal.

The underlined expression is a gerund-participial clause modifying the nominal “armed forces”.

It is semantically similar to a relative clause, cf. the armed forces who sought/seek to take control of the territory.

Some people analyse it as a ‘reduced’ relative clause, but this is wrong since there is no possibility of it containing a relative phrase (cf. *armed forces who seeking to take control of the territory.)
I need time to think through what you've explained as it is "deep" for me to understand. Thank you for your efforts!
 

waverider

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That's an interesting perspective. What do you make of the fact that an adverbial well-suited to the past progressive, such as "at that moment," can naturally be added to the "armed forces seeking" version and to the "armed forces that were seeking" version, but not to the "armed services that sought" version?

The armed forces seeking at that moment to take control of the territory were brutal.
The armed forces that were seeking at that moment to take control of the territory were brutal.

?* The armed forces that sought at that moment to take control of the territory were brutal.
I need time to think through what you've explained as it is too "deep" for me to understand. Thank you for your efforts!
 

waverider

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I honestly don't see much point in trying to analyse this until waverider can clarify the intended meaning. My feeling is that the sentence originally arose in waverider's mind as an expression of this thought:

The armed forces, seeking to take control of the territory, were brutal.

If that's the case, I'll argue that there is no semantic equivalent to a relative clause (whether that be who were seeking or who sought). My interpretation is that the gerund-participial clause is logically connected to the sentence meaning in that the armed forces' brutality was a result of their seeking to take control. You could head by at the beginning of the phrase to show this more clearly, and neither who were seeking or who sought are possible.

Of course, I may be misinterpreting the sentence. My point, though, is that if you want to syntactically analyse any real language in use properly, you ought to get the semantics nailed down first.
I need time to think through what you've explained as it is too "deep" for me to understand. Thank you for your efforts!
 
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