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references for Grammar Glossary entry: “subjuncts”

• The following sections of A Comprehensive Grammar of The English Language (Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, Jan Svartik, Longman, London & New York, 1985) were consulted in preparing this entry:


§§8.88-8.120  566-568

[diagrammatic representation of sub-classes of subjunct]

Figure 8.88  566

several postings by philo2009 on the usingEnglish.com forum were also helpful

further notes:

1. what it means to say subjuncts play a subordinate role in clause structure: In §8.88 the authors of CGEL say that subjuncts “have to a greater or lesser degree, a subordinate role in comparison with other clause elements,” and similar remarks occur throughout their entire 46-page discussion of the subject. Exactly what is intended by this is not easy to understand — and perhaps the terminology is not entirely felicitous. One thing that does help is the author’s clear statement that adjuncts, unlike subjuncts, are on the same “level” as the other clause elements (subjects, verb phrases, objects, and complements). Also, in the hope of clarifying the authors’ meaning, it is worth quoting this passage from §8.121 (at the beginning of the discussion of disjuncts): “Subjuncts have in general a lesser role than the other sentence elements; they have for example, less independence both semantically and grammatically and in some respects are subordinate to one or other of the sentence elements.”

2. the grammatical operations that are not typically applicable to subjuncts: In keeping with their general approach, the authors of CGEL characterize subjuncts (and other adverbials) in terms of their grammatical behavior. In §8.25 they list several “processes” all of which can be applied to adjuncts, but which, to one degree or another, are not applicable to the other types of adverbial. The processes most relevant to an understanding of subjuncts seem to be: (i) the possibility of being the focus of a cleft sentence, (ii) the possibility of being contrasted with a similar item in “alternative interrogation” or “alternative negation,” and (iii) the possibility of being the focus of a focusing subjunct. An example of the resistance of some subjuncts to alternative interrogation is given in the entry. Similar discussions of the applicability or non-applicability of these processes to subjuncts can be found at several points in CGEL. It can perhaps be added, however, that, from the point of view of a non-specialist at least, these “tests” are not of as much importance as the semantic qualities of subjuncts — for example, the ability of “viewpoint subjuncts” to express in a single word a meaning that would otherwise require a phrase of the form “from a _ point of view.”

3. possible paraphrases of some subjuncts: Other types of paraphrase are possible apart from the one mentioned just above: for example, the sentence, “Generously, Sara agreed to give Harry the house,” containing the subject-orientation item subjunct, generously, can be paraphrased as follows: “Sara agreed to give Harry the house; (and) it was generous of her to do so.” Similarly the sentence, “Jack will definitely not forgive Jill,” could be paraphrased as, “It is definite that Jack will not forgive Jill.”

4. the importance of the position of subjuncts: The position of an adverbial is often important in determining whether or not an adverbial is to be interpreted as a subjunct. For example, in the sentence “Dick reluctantly answered Harry’s question,” it is natural to interpret the adverbial, reluctantly, as a manner adjunct. However, when the adverbial is moved to the initial position as in “Reluctantly, Dick answered Harry’s question,” it becomes natural to interpret it as a subject-oriented item subjunct.