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Nonfinite Clauses. An analysis of to-infinitives and -ing participles in newspaper articles from “The Guardian”

Term Paper 2013 21 Pages

English Language and Literature Studies - Linguistics

Excerpt

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 Past research: Theoretical Background
2.1 Structural classes
2.2 Embedded nonfinite clauses on the clause level
2.2.1 Subject
2.2.2 Direct Object
2.2.3 Subject Complement
2.2.4 Object Complement
2.2.5 Adverbial
2.3 Embedded nonfinite clauses on the phrase level
2.3.1 Noun Phrase
2.3.2 Adjective Phrase
2.3.3 Prepositional Phrase

3 Present research question: Application of theoretical background

4 Methods and data: Analysis of three newspaper articles

5 Results: Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis
5.1 Quantitative occurrence of nonfinite clauses
5.2 Qualitative appraisal of embeddedness on the clause level
5.2.1 Subject
5.2.2 Direct Object
5.2.3 Subject Complement
5.2.4 Object Complement
5.2.5 Adverbial
5.3 Quantitative appraisal of embeddedness on the phrase level
5.3.1 Noun Phrase
5.3.2 Adjective Phrase
5.3.3 Prepositional Phrase

6 Discussion and Conclusion

7 Bibliography

8 Appendix

1 Introduction

“Language is the most massive and inclusive art we know, a mountainous and anonymous work of unconscious generations.” Edward Sapir (1921:220), a poet as well as pioneer linguist, draws our attention to the great diversity that language itself holds. Even the small section of Sentence Analysis presents a great many points of interest that would be worth analysing and applying on a text.

The present study focuses on nonfinite clauses as one of the three main types of clauses aside from finite clauses and verbless clauses. The aim of this paper is to analyse the structural classes of to-infinitives and -ing participle clauses concerning their realizations on the clause level as well as the phrase level. In Section 5 we will apply the theoretical background knowledge to the analysis of three newspaper articles from “The Guardian” along the lines of these features.

2 Past research: Theoretical Background

2.1 Structural classes

The paper begins by briefly reviewing the structural classes of nonfinite clauses highlighting the to-infinitive and -ing participle because these types are used most frequently in the following analysed newspaper articles. Downing and Locke (2006:12) identify a first distinction at the rank of clause: finite and nonfinite clauses. The verb form classifies a clause as nonfinite if it is not conjugated in tense, modality or person and number. (Downing, Locke 2006:12) Main clauses always have to contain a finite verb element; as a result of that it can be concluded that nonfinite verb elements only occur in subordinate clauses. Furthermore many constituents may be absent, for example an overt subject. If this is the case, it “indicates either the reference of that constituent is general [...] or the reference is identical to a constituent in a higher (superordinate) clause.” (Burton Roberts 1997:250) The classes of nonfinite verb phrases are distinguished into to-infinitive, bare infinitive, -ing participle an -ed participle. (Downing, Locke 2006:12-13)

To-infinitive clause: “They want to hire a caravan.” (Downing, Locke 2006:13) -ing participle clause: “We found Ann sitting in the garden.” (Downing, Locke 2006:13)

2.2 Embedded nonfinite clauses on the clause level

Firstly, embedded nonfinite clauses can be analysed on a clause level. To-infinitive clauses and -ing participle clauses may function as subjects, direct objects, subject complements, object complements and adverbials.

2.2.1 Subject

In general the subject is formed by a noun phrase or a nominal clause. There has to be one in every declarative clause, positioned before the verb, and interrogative clause, occurring after the finite operator. In imperative clauses, it is commonly absent but implied. (Quirk 2010:724-25) As well as noun phrases, nonfinite clauses can appear as a subject in the realization of a nominal clause. Among nonfinite clauses, only to-infinitive clauses and -ing participle clauses can own this function. (Quirk 2010:1061-63)

To-infinitive clause: “To be neutral in this conflict is out of the question.“ (Quirk 2010:1061)

-ing participle clause: “Watching television keeps them out of mischief.” (Quirk 2010:1063) If there is an explicit subject in the to-infinitive clause, it is normally introduced by the preposition for. (Burton-Roberts 1997:255)

To-infinitive clause: “[For Europe] [t]o be neutral in this conflict [...].” (Quirk 2010:1061)

-ing participle clause: “[The siblings] [w]atching television [...].“ (Quirk 2010:1063)

2.2.2 Direct Object

Direct objects are realised typically by a noun phrase or a nominal clause identically to the subject. (Quirk 2010:726) Nonfinite clauses can serve as direct objects in all structural clauses. In to-infinitive clauses and -ing participle clauses the subject of the clause may be explicit or implied. (Aarts 1988:156)

To-infinitive with explicit subject: “I saw Bob crash into a lamppost.” (Aarts 1988:156)

-ing participle with implied subject: “He enjoys playing practical jokes.” (Quirk 2010:1063)

2.2.3 Subject Complement

Only to-infinitive clauses and -ing participle clauses can realize the function of a subject complement. To-infinitive clauses may be introduced by a WH-word. An explicit subject must be preceded by for. “Clauses containing -ing participles may or may not have an explicit subject.” (Aarts 1988: 159-60)

To-infinitive: “The problem is where to hide it.” (Aarts 1988:160)

-ing participle: “Her first job had been selling computers.” (Quirk 2010:1063)

2.2.4 Object Complement

Direct objects can be followed by a nonfinite clause acting as an object complement. The subject of the nonfinite clause is implied, which functions as the object in the superordinate clause. (Quirk 2010:1202)

To-infinitive: “They knew him to be a spy.” (Quirk 2010:1202)

-ing participle: “I caught Ann reading my diary.” (Quirk 2010:1202)

2.2.5 Adverbial

All types of nonfinite clauses can be used as adverbials. Infinitive clauses are of two categories. Some have a subject of their own, introduced by for; the subject of others is implied, referring to the subject of the main clause. Infinitives might be preceded by subordinators. They always contain to, except when followed by rather than and sooner than. (Aarts 1988:166)

Infinitive: ”Rather than study, Sam watched the football game.” (Aarts 1988:166) To-infinitive: “She telephoned hoping for a job.” (Quirk 2010:489)

-ing participle clauses are of two types as well. Those of the first type have an explicit subject; those of the second do not. The understood subject is identical to the subject of the main clause. They may be introduced by a subordinator. (Aarts 1988:167)

-ing participle: “The referee being ill, the match had to be postponed.” (Aarts 1988:167)

2.3 Embedded nonfinite clauses on the phrase level

Moreover nonfinite clauses can be analysed on the phrase level, embedded in noun phrases, adjective phrases and prepositional phrases.

2.3.1 Noun Phrase

Postmodification of a noun phrase can occur by -ing participle clauses, -ed participles and to- infinitives. (Quirk 2010:1263-64) Nonfinite clauses are regarded as “reduced versions of finite clauses”. (Haan 1989:63) -ing participle clauses and -ed participle clauses are “limited to relative clauses in which the relative pronoun is subject.” (Quirk 2010:1263) To-infinitive clauses as postmodifiers “allow correspondences with relative clauses where the relative pronoun can be not only subject, but also object or adverbial, and to a limited extent, complement.” (Quirk 2010:1265)

To-infinitive: “The man (for you) to see is Mr Johnson.” (Quirk 2010:1266)

-ing participle: “He gave me a box containing letters.” (Haan 1989:63)

2.3.2 Adjective Phrase

The structure of an adjective phrase can be distinguished into head and modifier. Nonfinite clauses function as a postmodification of adjective phrases. The adjectival head can be followed by a to-infinitive clause, which may be preceded by a WH-word. An explicit subject is normally introduced by for. Few adjectives are followed by an -ing participle clause (for instance: worth and busy). (Aarts 1988:119-21)

To- infinitive: “I feel dubious what to do next.” (Aarts 1988:121)

“The children were very eager for the party to start.” (Aarts 1988:121)

2.3.3 Prepositional Phrase

Only -ing participle clauses can be embedded in a prepositional phrase. Prepositional phrases itself might be in an embedded position within another constituent or function as an adverbial. (Burton-Roberts 1997:260)

Adjective Phrase postmodified by a prepositional phrase:

“He was hopeless at writing letters.” (Burton-Roberts 1997:260) Adverbial in the form of a prepositional phrase:

“I can do this without using my hands.” (Burton-Roberts 1997:261)

3 Present research question: Application of theoretical background

Taking all the previous theoretical background information on nonfinite clauses into consideration, the following part of the term paper will be concerned with the analysis of three newspaper articles from “The Guardian” along these features.

4 Methods and data: Analysis of three newspaper articles

A case study approach of three newspaper articles, taken from “The Guardian”, will be used to bring out the frequent usage of to-infinitive clauses and -ing participle clauses more clearly. The analysed texts are the following:

- “All primary pupils should have free school meals, report recommends” by Richard Adams, David Batty and Patrick Wintour (12 July 2013) - abbreviated to the initial “A” in further discussion
- “Working at Sports Direct is no fairytale for part-timers” by Jayne Walt (29 July 2013)
- abbreviated to “W”
- “Britain is losing the war against internet crime, says MP report” by Andrew Sparrow (30 July 2013) - abbreviated to “B”

The discussion will be selected on the basis of a quantitative occurrence and qualitative appraisal. The quantitative analysis evaluates the frequency of to-infinitives, -ing participles, -ed participles and bare infinitives in these newspaper articles. Afterwards, we will turn to a qualitative appraisal. This includes a contemplation of the embeddedness of to-infinitives and -ing participles on the clause level, functioning as a subject, direct object, subject complement, object complement or adverbial. Furthermore the embeddedness on a phrase level is reflected upon; to-infinitives and -ing participles in the position of a postmodifier of a noun phrase, adjective phrase or as a part of a prepositional phrase.

5 Results: Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis

5.1 Quantitative occurrence of nonfinite clauses

It can be seen from the pie chart 5.1.1 that-ing participles (45%) and to-infinitives (45%) hold the very most part (together 90%) of the realization in nonfinite clauses. Bare infinitives (4%) and -ed participles (6%) take a very limited space in the analysed newspaper articles. As a result of this distribution, only the to- infinitive clauses and -ing participle clauses will be examined in further analysis. 5.1.1 Quantitative occurrence of nonfinite clauses To gain an insight into the diverse functions of to-infinitives and -ing participles, Table 5.1.2 illustrates the embeddedness on the clause level and the phrase level.

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5.1.2 Embeddedness on a clause or phrase level

Several conclusions can be drawn from the data in Table 5.1.2. Embeddedness on a clause level (58%) and on a phrase level (42%) almost appears with the same likelihood. The function of the adverbial (26%) is uppermost, secondly direct objects (15%), and prepositional phrases (15%) are applied, followed by noun phrases (13%), adjective phrases (12%) and object complements (12%), whereas fewer used is the function as a subject (6%) and rarely occurs a subject complement (1%). Our findings must be interpreted with caution. On the evidence presented, we cannot be certain whether recent results are representative for newspaper articles in general.

5.2 Qualitative appraisal of embeddedness on the clause level

Section 5.2 will concentrate on the qualitative appraisal of embeddedness on a clause level.

5.2.1 Subject

The newspaper articles provide some examples of subjects as nominal clauses. However, they are only realized as -ing participle clauses, which tends to be more common than the realization of a to-infinitive.

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Details

Pages
21
Year
2013
ISBN (eBook)
9783668236028
ISBN (Book)
9783668236035
File size
1.6 MB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v323736
Institution / College
University of Würzburg
Grade
2,3
Tags
nonfinite clauses to-infinitives ing participle phrases Sapir language diversity sentence analysis
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Title: Nonfinite Clauses. An analysis of  to-infinitives and -ing participles in newspaper articles from “The Guardian”