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Topic: Relative pronouns: Why are question words and relative pronouns alke?
Posted: Friday, September 18, 2015 1:52:44 PM
I may be reading into it too much but the punctuation seems important to me here. The period at the end lends a neutral feel to the sentence, it ends flat. The context will tell in the end, but that is how I'd be inclined to read the sentence in isolation. By using the question mark the speaker clearly wants to retain focus on the fact that he is still seeking for an answer to his dilemma. I'm not sure what it is that makes me think that the question mark carries the connotation of a genuine inquiry on the part of the speaker, and why I feel that such nuance is lacking when the sentence ends with the period, but somehow, when I read these sentences I think of slightly different contexts for them depending on whether the period or question mark are used to mark the end of the sentence.
Topic: Relative pronouns: Why are question words and relative pronouns alke?
Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2015 1:12:37 PM
Interesting Dragonspeaker. I've found it here http://sites.duke.edu/conversions/files/2014/09/Searle_Illocutionary-Acts.pdf that Searle, who is the author of this, obviously widely adopted, systematization of speech acts takes questions to be a subtype of directives: Questions are a species of directives since they are attempts by S to get H to answer - i.e. to perform a speech act.
I've also found a few other taxonomies of speech acts which include questions as a separate category (Vendler, Wunderlich)

Quote:

There are no questions, grammatically.


I can say that in English and Serbian there's no way you can individuate a grammatical form that stands for a question. I mean to say with a hundred percent accuracy this must be a question because it has such and such grammatical form. All we can say is that the default grammatical form used to ask questions in English or Serbian is interrogative form. The very name "interrogative" suggests the principal use of this form in English.


The subject is complex and would take a lot of reading obviously to get more insight into the basis for the classification of speech acts.

Quote:
"I'm curious as to why you did that?", he said.

the question mark would tend to make me climax the rising tone on "that", instead of the normal "did". I would think that the author deliberately wished to make the character use this unusual intonation. If not, the author should have omitted the question mark.


Now I'm curious that you decidedly reject reading the sentence as a question (aside the reading with the stress on "that") :) Is that this sentence only or you'd feel the same about any "I'm curious as to why.." sentence ending with the question mark?
I've checked Google Books and other internet sources and the question mark at the end of "I'm curious as to why.." sentences:


Quote:
“I'm curious as to why you haven't bopped her on the head yet?

I had an opportunity to read your records so I'm curious as to why you turned down a commission?

I’m curious as to why you see there’s a lack of grace and maturity?

I'm curious as to why the majority of the data relates to the opinions of male drinkers only?

I'm curious as to why he did not requisition the MRI, himself, as long as his medical license remains active!?

I know that's a good thing but I'm curious as to why he's still hasn't gotten injured am I just lucky or is anyone having this issue?

I for one will be voting for Bernie Sanders come primary time, but I'm curious as to why he is so popular amongst the Reddit community?


Here's an elaborate treatment of speech acts theory:

http://users.monash.edu.au/~kallan/papers/Speechacts.html

Topic: Relative pronouns: Why are question words and relative pronouns alke?
Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2015 6:56:48 AM

Quote:
"I'd like to know when you're free?"
"I'm curious as to why you did that?"

These are not inflected with a rising tone at the end (which is how I tend to interpret a question mark).
Do they (grammatically) count as questions, and do they need the question mark?


If we think of "grammatical" as syntax of a language, these sentences would count as declarative sentences. A declarative sentence is a specific type of clause with specific syntactic properties, typically used to express statements/assertions. Interrogative sentences are a type of clause typically used to inquire about something. There are also exclamative and imperative clause types, which are similarly connected with specific speech acts. There is a close relation between the grammatical clause types and a kind of speech acts they are used to express but there isn't a perfect match between the two. We can obviously ask questions by using declarative clause form, and we can use the interrogative form to assert something in form of a rhetorical question. The logic of speech acts goes beyond boundaries of language and to answer whether a language unit is meant as a question or as an assertion, we'd need to read on the theory of speech acts, and we'd need to be careful not to get lost in the terminology. The author of this document http://www.uqtr.ca/~vandervk/05_Searle_vanderveken.pdf opens his discussion by saying this:

Quote:
The minimal units of human communication are speech acts of a type called illocutionary acts.



As the author says the theory of the logic of illocutionary speech acts deals with kinds of illocutionary forces independently of how they are expressed in language.
He further goes to explain how propositional logic, illocutionary logic and linguistics are related. To illustrate different types of illocutionary forces the author gives the example: "You will leave the room" vs "Leave the room!", saying that the former characteristically has the illocutionary force of a prediction and later of a directive. Here's an excerpt from the introductory part of the document:

Quote:
The minimal units of human communication are speech acts of a type called illocutionary acts. Some examples of these are statements, questions, commands, promises, and apologies. Whenever a speaker utters a sentence in an appropriate context with certain intentions, he performs one or more illocutionary acts. In general an illocutionary act consists of an illocutionary force F and a propositional content P . For example, the two utterances “You will leave the room” and “Leave the room!” have the same propositional content, namely that you will leave the room; but characteristically the first of these has the llocutionary force of a prediction and the second has the illocutionary force of an order. Similarly,the two utterances “Are you going to the movies?” and “When will you see John?” both characteristically have the illocutionary force of questions but have different propositional contents. Illocutionary logic is the logical theory of illocutionary acts. Its main objective is to formalize the logical properties of illocutionary forces. Illocutionary forces are realized in the syntax of actual natural languages in a variety of ways, e.g. mood, punctuation, word-order, intonation contour, and stress, among others; and it is a task for empirical linguistics to study such devices as they function in actual languages. The task of illocutionary logic, on the other hand, is to study the entire range of possible illocutionary forces however these may be realized in particular natural languages. In principle it studies all possible illocutionary forces of utterances in any possible language, and not merely the actual realization of these possibilities in actual speech acts in actual languages. Just as propositional logic studies the properties of all truth functions (e.g. conjunction, material implication, negation) without worrying about the various ways that these are realized in the syntax of English (“and”, “but”, and “moreover”, to mention just a few for conjunction), so illocutionary logic studies the properties of illocutionary forces (e.g. assertion, conjecture, promise)without worrying about the various ways that these are realized in the syntax of English (“assert”, “state”, “claim”, and the indicative mood, to mention just a few for assertion) and without worrying whether these features translate into other languages. No matter whether and how an illocutionary act is performed, it has a certain logical form which determines its conditions of success and relates it to other speech acts. We will try to characterize that form independently of the various forms of expression that may exist in actual natural languages for the expression of the act.


The systematization of speech acts by the same author is quoted in the Wikipedia article on illocutionary acts https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illocutionary_act:

Quote:
Classes of illocutionary acts

Searle (1975) set up the following classification of illocutionary speech acts:

assertives = speech acts that commit a speaker to the truth of the expressed proposition
directives = speech acts that are to cause the hearer to take a particular action, e.g. requests, commands and advice
commissives = speech acts that commit a speaker to some future action, e.g. promises and oaths
expressives = speech acts that express on the speaker's attitudes and emotions towards the proposition, e.g. congratulations, excuses and thanks
declarations = speech acts that change the reality in accord with the proposition of the declaration, e.g. baptisms, pronouncing someone guilty or pronouncing someone husband and wife



For some reason, I'd prefer the period in the first of your sentences and could opt for either the period or question mark in the second one, depending on the intonation. With a flat intonation and the appropriate preceding context (maybe one with dismissing the question as inconsequential after all: Nevermind, I was just curious as to why he did that." ) But, if I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out his reasons for doing that, and I'm saying this with a rising intonation, I'd opt for the question mark: I'm curious as to why he did that?.


Topic: Relative pronouns: Why are question words and relative pronouns alke?
Posted: Wednesday, September 16, 2015 1:29:34 PM
Quote:
Quote:
Or even clearer with a comma: Tell me, what time you are not busy?

I don't think this works. It would have to be "are you" rather than "you are".



I agree it doesn't, as you said inversion would be required for the sentence with a comma to be grammatical.
I was trying to detach the "what time.." clause from "tell" to highlight the interrogative character of the clause "..what time you are free". In my view, "Tell me, what time are you free?" corresponds to the integrated version: "Tell me what time you are free". The speaker asks for information that he needs to know.
Topic: Relative pronouns: Why are question words and relative pronouns alke?
Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 12:03:05 PM
Interesting Audiendus. I guess that in the second one the analysis of "when you are not busy" as an embedded question would be preferred over analyzing it as a fused relative: Tell me what time you are not busy? (maybe with the period instead of the question mark). Or even clearer with a comma: Tell me, what time you are not busy?
Topic: Relative pronouns: Why are question words and relative pronouns alke?
Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 10:11:19 AM
Quote:
Their point in explaining fused relatives is that they are noun phrases, where the relative word fuses together a noun and a relative word which doesn't need to be the same as the fused relative.


I forgot to say that the part you pointed out Audiendus in what I said before should be corrected to "fused relatives are noun or prepositional phrases".

Also, the formal difference between the expressions fused relative words stand for is made more clear when we think of them as filling the gap in the following relative clause. In the sentences from my previous post the words "when" and "what" fill different gaps within the following relative clause:

She gave me help when I needed it the most.

She gave me what I needed the most.

When fills the slot of a temporal adjunct in the following clause:

I needed it the most when.

while "what" fills the slot of the direct object:

I needed what the most.
Topic: Relative pronouns: Why are question words and relative pronouns alke?
Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 8:30:01 AM
Quote:
The problem here is that the 'fused relative' sometimes fuses just noun + relative ("the food that"), and sometimes preposition + noun + relative ("for the time that"). In the latter case it stands for an adverbial phrase, not a noun phrase. Is it really a good idea to use the same term ('fused relative') to describe two constructions that are grammatically different?


To me, yes, it is a consistent analysis of -wh words used this way. The point is that any of these words in this construction has to contain the noun antecedent and the relative word introducing the clause that follows them. The clause following these words cannot be understood any other way but as a relative clause modifying/specifying the reference of the noun contained within the fused relative word. It can't be just any noun - the sentence makes sense only if the fused relative is understood as containing the missing noun heading the fully developed noun phrase containing a relative clause modifier. "While" or "when" in:

It happened while/when I was away from home.

clearly indicate the temporal location of the situation and can be replaced by "at the time" or "the day":

It happened at the time/the day (that) I was away from home.

but they cannot be replaced by just any expression of temporal location, like "yesterday" or "on Sunday" for example:

*It happened yesterday/on Sunday I was away from home.


The fact that some -wh words in fused relative construction are replaced with preposition + noun + relative word and some with simply noun + relative word sequence, shouldn't be felt as obscuring the obvious syntactic pattern common for these wh-words. This pattern is clear in syntactically similar sentences like:

She gave me help when I needed it the most.

She gave me what I needed the most.

The clauses "I needed it the most" and "I needed the most" are both relative clauses whose antecedents are contained within the words "when" and "what". The difference in the syntactic forms contained within these words comes with their respective syntactic territories and the meanings of the words "when" and "what". The likely paraphrases of the wh words in these sentences replace the fused relative "when" with the temporal expression "..at the time (that) I needed it the most" and the direct object "what" with "..the thing that I needed the most" respectively. The point is that it is always like this with any of the -wh words used as fused relatives - the resulting wording is about a noun modified by a relative clause, which can be introduced by a preposition in case the -wh word has to do with locative or temporal specification of the situation.

This is the rationale for analyzing "what", "when", "where", "while" etc. as a group of -wh words having a specific use as a syntactic alternative to the fully developed (preposition) + noun + relative clause modifier phrase. This analysis corresponds to the analysis of these words in questions.

When we analyze -wh words as question words, the first thing we want to say about them is that they all have syntactic functions in the sentence corresponding to the functions of the syntactic constituents in the affirmative sentence these words stand for. The formal and functional syntactic differences between question words are then the differences between the syntactic constituents such as subject, adverbial, locative complement etc. "What", "who" or "which" have the role of the subject or the object (or their part, when they are used as determiners) in the interrogative sentence, standing for the corresponding (most often) noun phrases in the affirmative sentence with, of course, the same function in that sentence. Question words when and where turn into a locative or temporal expression in the corresponding affirmative sentence, which syntactically most often has the form of a prepositional phrase etc.

The use of -wh words in what is called "fused relative construction" can be analyzed the same way. The difference is that fused relative words stand for a specific PART of a syntactic constituent in the corresponding construction which ALWAYS contains a relative clause. In both questions and fused relative construction the form of the constituent we align the -wh word with is dependent on the meaning and syntactic function of that specific constituent within the higher clause.

For example, words "where" and "when" as question words are used to ask open questions, which means that they may correspond to any kind or form of a locative or temporal expression in the affirmative sentence respectively. It is typically a prepositional phrase, but there are other options of course. As fused relative words when and where stand for a part of a locative/ temporal expression which contains a relative clause modifier. The part of that expression they stand for has to be understood as containing the relative word introducing the following clause as well as the noun antecedent.
Topic: Relative pronouns: Why are question words and relative pronouns alke?
Posted: Monday, September 14, 2015 2:29:35 PM
Quote:
daftpunk wrote:
On the other hand, "whose" and "while" are used as relative words but not as interrogative words.

When would "while" be a relative pronoun, rather than a conjunction? Are you thinking of such sentences as "It happened during the period while I was away"? (Shouldn't we say: "during the period [that] I was away"?)


Interesting question Audiendus. CGEL redefined the traditional class of conjunctions mostly as prepositions, and for the rest they use the terms "subordinators"/"coordinators". They note one p1078 that "while","where" and "when" in some of their uses can be analyzed as prepositions, here is the example they give for "while" as a preposition:

While I don't agree with what she says, I accept her right to say it

"While" as a fused relative is an adverb obviously, like where and when.

On page 1051 in CGEL they say that "..Relative while is mostly found in the fused construction, but it can occur in supplementary relative clauses (sentence i below) and for some speakers, in integrated ones (sentence ii). The antecedent denotes a period of time, and while can be replaced by when or during/in which (time).

i From 1981 to 1987, [while his uncle lived with them,] she had a full time job.

ii% He wrote most of his poetry during the years while he was in Paris


"While" as a fused relative can be understood by comparing it with the use of other wh words used this way (p1078):

I put the key where I always put it, in the top drawer.
It was fun while it lasted.


The explanation is that the subordinate clauses with the verb "last" , "put" have to contain complements of duration and location to be structurally complete, the gap is filled with the words "while" and "where" respectively:

It lasted __ (while)
I put it __ (where)


It is similar with the object of the verb "eat" and the fused relative "what":


The dog quickly ate what I had left on my plate.

"What" of course stands for the food I had left on my plate.

Their point in explaining fused relatives is that they are noun phrases, where the relative word fuses together a noun and a relative word which doesn't need to be the same as the fused relative. For example, "what" in the sentence above would stand for "the food that..": The dog quickly ate the food that I had left on my plate. The same analysis applies for "while", it stands for a relative construction that can be expanded like "for the time that": It was fun for the time that it lasted.
So, when we say: It happened during the period (that)I was away we have a relative clause "(that)I was away modifying the antecedent noun "period". We can "fuse" the head noun "period" and the relative word following it - "that" into one relative word - "while": It happened while I was away. "When" would be analyzed the same of course: It happened when I was away.

You can take a look at the full explanation they give on p1051 and p1078 in CGEL here http://tinyurl.com/nm569sk
Topic: Relative pronouns: Why are question words and relative pronouns alke?
Posted: Monday, September 14, 2015 10:54:17 AM
I'd like to add that the rogermue's question is certainly very interesting, hope others provide their thoughts on the subject in this thread.
Topic: Relative pronouns: Why are question words and relative pronouns alke?
Posted: Monday, September 14, 2015 10:31:33 AM
It is important to clearly distinguish the concept of "question" and "interrogative clause". Question can be posed in different grammatical forms, such as a conversational sentence fragment as in your example or in the form of a fully developed affirmative sentence:

You're going to have your dessert while we are still on the soup course?

This is a question of course but it's not an interrogative clause. In neither case is there an interrogative word involved in asking a question. "While" is not an interrogative word. Interrogative words are used to inquire about something we don't know: who, why, how, whose, which, what, when or where, are words used to ask open questions - questions to which the number of possible answers is theoretically unlimited.

I forgot to mention "what" earlier, it is of course a common interrogative word that is not used as a relative word, except in what is called "fused relative construction".

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