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Reply to "worried about/afraid of"

@navi posted:

a) Who did you approve of t studying linguistics?

What does the t stand for?

Hello again, Naviā€”The italicized "t" stands for "trace." It can also be represented as a "gap," as in "Who did you approve of __ studying linguistics?" Essentially, the trace or gap represents the place from which the interrogative pronoun "moved" as the sentence transformed from its deep structure (roughly: "[+Q, +past] you approve of whom studying linguistics"] to its surface structure ("Who[m] did you approve of studying linguistics?").

@navi posted:

Are you sure that sentence isn't supposed to mean:

b) Whose studying linguistics did you approve of?

You approved of him studying linguistics.

That's exactly what it's supposed to mean. It's just that, instead of the POSS-ing (possessive-ing) construction, which you have in (b), we have the ACC-ing (accusative-ing) construction. I am not sure whether (b) is grammatical. I tend to doubt it. The following, in which the preposition is fronted, too, seems closer to being grammatical, though even it may not be fully so:

b') Of whose studying linguistics did you approve?

Similarly, we could revise your ACC-ing specimens in your opening post to the POSS-ing construction and use Pied Piping on them. In each case, we have a fringe construction of extremely dubious grammaticality, it seems to me:

1') The accident about whose happening I was worried finally happened.
2') The expensive plate about whose breaking I was worried broke.
3') The accident of whose happening I was afraid finally happened.
4') The expensive plate of whose breaking I was afraid broke.

Last edited by David, Moderator