Can somebody explain this phrase?

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levantis
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Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby levantis » Sun Apr 04, 2010 9:35 pm UTC

Saw "What did you bring that book I don't like to be read to out of up for?" on the "Pi equals 3" thread, and can`t understand the meaning. I figured what "for" was for out though.

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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby bebboe » Sun Apr 04, 2010 10:02 pm UTC

the best paraphrase I as a non-native can come up with is:

For what reason did you bring the book that is such that I don't like people to read to me anything that is written in that book.

Native speakers, go.

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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby Makri » Sun Apr 04, 2010 10:18 pm UTC

Cool sentence! :D Took me some time to parse...

"for" belongs with "what". "up" is a particle from "bring X up"/"bring up X". The argument position of "to" is the subject of passivization. "I was read to." ~ "Someone read to me." The argument of "out of" would be a relative pronoun, which, however, is unpronounced.
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Apr 04, 2010 10:23 pm UTC

"Why did you bring up that book out of which I don't like to be read to?"
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby Forum Viking » Tue Apr 13, 2010 12:50 am UTC

"Why did you bring up that book out of which I don't like to be read to?"


Why did you bring up that book? I never liked it being read to me.

-or-

Why did you bring up that book, which I never liked being read to me? (unusual placement of "?", admittedly)
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby LeftwardMovement » Tue Apr 13, 2010 4:02 am UTC

levantis wrote:Saw "What did you bring that book I don't like to be read to out of up for?" on the "Pi equals 3" thread, and can`t understand the meaning. I figured what "for" was for out though.



That just sounds awful to me, as it should to any native speaker of North American English, since this wh-movement is extraction out of an adjunct, since the wh-elt must be generated either as sister to the last preposition, where its movement would violate adjunct extraction. Or, it's generated higher, and we have extraction out of the Complex NP island.

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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby Makri » Tue Apr 13, 2010 9:40 am UTC

There's 3.6 million google hits for "What did you do this for?"... I think that sentence sounds awful to you simply because it's absurdly difficult to parse.
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby LeftwardMovement » Tue Apr 13, 2010 11:02 am UTC

Makri wrote:There's 3.6 million google hits for "What did you do this for?"... I think that sentence sounds awful to you simply because it's absurdly difficult to parse.


"What did you do this for" is completely fine for me, since this is just wh-extraction out of an object that isn't anything special:
"What_i did you do this for t_i"

The problem I have with the example given is that the wh-elt is generated somewhere down below, in that massive adjunct, and I have a hard time finding out its base position prior to movement. Unless, of course, I'm parsing this wrong, and the wh-elt is just part of an echo question.

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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby Makri » Tue Apr 13, 2010 11:06 am UTC

"What did you do this for" is completely fine for me, since this is just wh-extraction out of an object that isn't anything special:
"What_i did you do this for t_i"


I have no idea what bracketing you have in mind...

The problem I have with the example given is that the wh-elt is generated somewhere down below, in that massive adjunct


It totally isn't. The massive adjunct is the relative clause "I don't like to be read to out of". "for e" is definitely part of the matrix clause; which, if it is an adjunct, is everything but massive.
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby LeftwardMovement » Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:48 pm UTC

Makri wrote:
"What did you do this for" is completely fine for me, since this is just wh-extraction out of an object that isn't anything special:
"What_i did you do this for t_i"


I have no idea what bracketing you have in mind...


The bracketing I had in mind for the base position was something like:
a) You did do this for what. Movement of the wh and aux.
b) Whati did you do this for ti.

Makri wrote:
The problem I have with the example given is that the wh-elt is generated somewhere down below, in that massive adjunct


It totally isn't. The massive adjunct is the relative clause "I don't like to be read to out of". "for e" is definitely part of the matrix clause; which, if it is an adjunct, is everything but massive.


Okay so it gets better if I parse it as "Whati did you bring that book [that I don't like to be read to out of] up for ti". I still have a hard time parsing the CP adjunct though. Definitely not something I would generate unless I remembered this and decided to be cheeky.

It's definitely better in the form after a clause shift, but gets messy with the question formation:

c) You brought up for my amusement that book that I don't like to be read to out of.
d) You brought up for what that book that I don't like to be read to out of.
e) ?*What did you bring up for ti that book that I don't like to be read to out of?

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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby Sir Novelty Fashion » Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:59 pm UTC

Makri wrote:There's 3.6 million google hits for "What did you do this for?"... I think that sentence sounds awful to you simply because it's absurdly difficult to parse.

It's just "You did this for what [purpose]..." with the question-word at the forefront.

Coming up with a translation for the sentence...

"What did you bring that book up for, from which I don't like to be read to?" - Is that actually any clearer? gmalivuk's answer is probably the clearest way of doing it without splitting it into two sentences.
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby Makri » Tue Apr 13, 2010 4:37 pm UTC

The bracketing I had in mind for the base position was something like:
a) You did do this for what. Movement of the wh and aux.
b) Whati did you do this for ti.


I would prefer a bracketing with visible brackets, though... :P

Actually, this is an evil question, because I don't know of any solution for the problem that this looks like extraction out of an adjunct... I was just making the point that extraction from an adjunct can't be what makes the long messy sentence in this thread bad. :)

Okay so it gets better if I parse it as "What_i did you bring that book [that I don't like to be read to out of] up for t_i".


Yes, that was the parse I intended. Of course, it's difficult to process, no doubt. I think that's what makes one dislike the sentence.

By the way, I'd be curious who else finds a problem with e). I'm not a native speaker, but it doesn't sound particularly bad to me.
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Apr 13, 2010 5:11 pm UTC

As a native speaker, I'd say e) sucks. If "for" doesn't go after the thing I'm asking about, it should go before the "what". Putting it in the middle like that makes it if anything even harder to parse than the original.

(And incidentally, the original wasn't meant as an awesome example of style in written English or anything. It's just an example showing that it can be grammatical to end a sentence with what appears to be a sequence of five prepositions.)
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby Forum Viking » Wed Apr 14, 2010 3:15 am UTC

I endorse the above sentiment, and ask what the hell was wrong with my idea.
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby LeftwardMovement » Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:28 pm UTC

Makri wrote:I would prefer a bracketing with visible brackets, though... :P


[IPYou did [VPdo [DPthis [PPfor [DP what ]]]]]
[CPWhati didj[IPyou tj [VPdo [DPthis [PPfor ti]]]]]

That was the bracketing I had in mind.

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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby Makri » Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:44 pm UTC

A pronoun with a PP complement? You must be kidding me...

"What did you paint this picture of the King for?"
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby LeftwardMovement » Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:40 pm UTC

Makri wrote:A pronoun with a PP complement? You must be kidding me...

"What did you paint this picture of the King for?"


Yes, a joke... Hahaha.

But to be slightly more serious, I messed up here, and I really shouldn't've since my Syntax exam is tomorrow. Ah, but adjuncts are a fickle thing. And I suck at bracketing. Seriously, it takes me forever to draw a tree on LaTeX using qTree.

[IPYou [VPpainted [DPthis picture of the king ] [PPfor [DP what ]]]]

It seems odd to have the DP be an adjunct, with the PP as the complement, but this seems to be the only way I can get around the adjunct island constraint for the extraction of 'what'.

Moreover, this bracketing seems to jive with adjunct islands, since extraction out of the DP seems impossible:

*[CPWho did [IPyou [VPpaint [DPthis picture of ti ] [PPfor [DP Mary ]]]]]

Although come to think of it, I'm not really sure that's due to adjunct island or heavy DP island. Damn.

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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby Makri » Wed Apr 14, 2010 11:13 pm UTC

That the second sentence should be ungrammatical, is weird, since

What_i did Hera present evidence against t_i to Zeus?

has been reported to be okay.

(How do you get those nice subscript indices?)

Does "What did you put that in the fridge for?" work for you?
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby LeftwardMovement » Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:54 am UTC

Makri wrote:That the second sentence should be ungrammatical, is weird, since

What_i did Hera present evidence against t_i to Zeus?

has been reported to be okay.

(How do you get those nice subscript indices?)

Does "What did you put that in the fridge for?" work for you?


Keep in mind that 'put' and 'present' are both ditransitive verbs, and as such, the structure is different from paint, which is just a standard transitive. As such, the examples you gave would be movement out of the direct object and indirect object, respectively.

Also, the code for subscripts is

Code: Select all

[sub][/sub]
What[sub]i[/sub]

Where the second line shows how to do what with a subscript.

EDIT: Okay, so I realized I should've actually paid closer attention to what you wrote first. Namely, that 'present' is just transitive, and that I think the movement implied in the second one comes from a PP adjunct to the indirect object.

Moreover, both of the sentences proposed are ungrammatical to me. The first one would be fine without 'to zeus' but I have no reasonable explanation as to why. The second one is pretty awkward to me, at least if you want it to have the interpretation I think you want me to have.

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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby RabbitWho » Sat May 01, 2010 10:30 pm UTC

Awesome sentence! It would be so clear out loud.






Why did you mention that book from which I don't like to be read, Oliver?

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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby Joeldi » Sun May 02, 2010 4:19 am UTC

It's difficult to parse written down, but if someone said it with all the right emphasis, well, yeah, it would be a natural enough sentence to say.

Read out of - Reading the contents
Read to out of - Reading the contents to someone
I don't like to be read to out of - I don't like to have the contents read aloud to me
The book that () - I don't like to have the contents of that particular book read alout to me
What did you = Why did you ("for what reason did you")
Bring () up for - it's been brought either literally up from somewhere (a basement?), or from somewhere far enough away to require effort, or from a great distance from the south
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby Weeks » Sun May 02, 2010 4:40 am UTC

"What did you [bring that book ({I don't like to be read to} out of) up] for?"

what_for(bring_up(read_out_of(book, me)))
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby scanlanj » Tue May 04, 2010 4:17 am UTC

Weeks is spot on, and suspect this is easier for American English listeners than others.

In the American Midwest, "what for?" is regularly used in place of "why?" despite the high-school admonition about not ending sentences with prepositions.

Since i am right now bringing a book upstairs to read to my daughter, the rest of the sentence seems clear!

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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby levantis » Mon May 24, 2010 3:37 pm UTC

After reading the replies for the second time, I got it. Great thanks for the replies )
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby Argency » Mon May 24, 2010 4:38 pm UTC

RabbitWho wrote:Awesome sentence! It would be so clear out loud.






Why did you mention that book from which I don't like to be read, Oliver?


Oh wow, that's my name. It's not that common here; reading that was like someone on television turning to look me in the eye and addressing me by name. Weird.

Also, does anyone know how many nestings the average person can parse across? My understanding is that the reason we slip up on this example is that its a hideous great matryoshka sentence and our working memory can't carry the question mark all the way from its trace down to the base of the grammar tree. It'd be interesting to know how many nestings we can put between a trace and its surface feature, if that's true.
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby Bobber » Mon May 24, 2010 5:53 pm UTC

Wouldn't people of different literary intelligence (I believe that is a term used in the WISC IQ tests, if that has any actual meaning) be able to handle a different amount of layers?
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby Nicad » Wed May 26, 2010 4:28 am UTC

Why did you bring out the book that I do not like to hear read?

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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby levantis » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:38 pm UTC

Nicad wrote:Why did you bring out the book that I do not like to hear read?

nice. this one is understandable, but has the same amount of layers. theory screwed ))

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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby Argency » Thu Jun 10, 2010 3:02 pm UTC

It's not as nested as the first sentence. Theory stands.
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby themonk » Sun Jun 13, 2010 3:01 pm UTC

I just have to save I love this sentence.

Confusing at first, but once one deciphers it...
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Bring up <--> bring upstairs

Postby QuestioningLead » Fri Jun 25, 2010 11:59 am UTC

I think it only sounds "naturalish-able" if the compound verb idiom thing isn't split. I hear it as "upstairs" every time.
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Re: Can somebody explain this phrase?

Postby djfly » Mon Jun 28, 2010 8:48 pm UTC

levantis wrote:Saw "What did you bring that book I don't like to be read to out of up for?" on the "Pi equals 3" thread, and can`t understand the meaning. I figured what "for" was for out though.


There are two parts:

"what did you bring that book ... up for?"
becomes
"Why did you bring that book up?"
which means
"Bringing something up" either means "moving it from a lower place" (perhaps from the basement) or "starting a discussion regarding it"

"...the book I don't like to be read to out of..."
becomes
"I don't like that book read to me"

I'd "translate" to one of the following:

"I don't like hearing that book read to me, why would you bring it up" (preserving the ambiguity surrounding "bring up")
"I don't like hearing that book read to me, why did you start a discussion about it?" (clarifying the ambiguity in one way)
"I don't like hearing that book read to me, why would you bring it up from [location]" (clarifying the ambiguity another way)
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