D. Brazil's Concepts of Extensions and Suspensions. Applied to 'About a Boy' by N. Hornby

Essay 2005 4 Pages

English Language and Literature Studies - Literature


In his theory of Grammar of Speech David Brazil introduces two concepts, which I am going to consider in this paper: Extensions and Suspensions. Let me give a short account of the meaning of the terms in question before I go on to apply them to the text.

Extensions according to Brazil’s theory are non-finite forms of the verb such as the Infinitive, the Gerund and the Participle (Present or Past) used by speakers in order to complete their communication and achieve the Target State, i.e. to communicate to the listener everything they (the speakers) have to say, after they have exhausted the possibilities provided by the simple chain rules. In short, extensions are found at the end of the sentence after simple chains. Here it is important to note, that the non-finite forms of the verb possess an ability, which distinguishes them from other syntactic elements, being verbs they are able to initiate a sub chain, i.e. to be modified by an adverb or a phrase, or to take an object.

Suspensions on the contrary occur at the beginning of the sentence in the seemingly “wrong” place according to the sequencing rules. They intrude into the syntactic chain suspending the achievement of the Target State and as a result often acquire some kind of `marked´ or `parenthetical´ status. Suspensions can be expressed not only by non-finite forms of the verb but also by adverbs, adverbial and prepositional phrases.

In order to illustrate the above-stated theory with examples we turned to a short passage from the novel “About a boy” by Nick Hornby. Reading it we come across the phenomena of extensions and suspensions. Let us consider the following examples:


1. … then they’d gone off into the kitchen to talk quietly (1.1), and after a little while they’d come out looking serious (1.2)…

2. Why would I want to be funny ?
3. But I just wanted to make sure.
4. You’d think that if you’d peed with someone you ought to keep in touch with them somehow.
5. I don’t really know how to explain it.
6. … there seemed to be a piece missing somewhere.
7. … you could hear the important bits
8. … you could listen for hours (8.1) and still miss the point (8.2)…
9. It was like they were told to argue
10. … but he had no idea whether that was anything to do with boyfriends.



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Brazil Concepts Extensions Suspensions Applied About Hornby




Title: D. Brazil's Concepts of Extensions and Suspensions. Applied to 'About a Boy' by N. Hornby