Skip to main content

Greetings,

1. He was middle-aged, of sallow complexion and had penetrating blue eyes.

(From The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language p.1335)

The book says the bold part is a  coordination of three coordinates, and "cannot be described directly in terms of the structures outlined in §1" (where it says "Coordination is a relation between two or more elements of syntactically equal status, the coordinates; they are usually linked by means of a coordinator such as and or or"), which means this sentence is a problematic one.

But I think there is a more simple and straightforward way to analyze it: why not parse it as layered coordination: at the first layer, "middle aged" is coordinated with "sallow complexion"(AdjP + PP), and then at the higher layer, "was middle-aged, of sallow complexion" with "had penetrating blue eyes." (VP + VP).

E915176C-DDBE-4574-9130-DB6CAC6F2E8B

Attachments

Images (1)
  • E
Last edited by Robby zhu
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Hi, Robby zhu,

@Robby zhu posted:

1. He was middle-aged, of sallow complexion and had penetrating blue eyes.

(From The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language p.1335)

The book says the bold part is a  coordination of three coordinates, and "cannot be described directly in terms of the structures outlined in §1" (where it says "Coordination is a relation between two or more elements of syntactically equal status, the coordinates; they are usually linked by means of a coordinator such as and or or"), which means this sentence is a problematic one.

But I think there is a more simple and straightforward way to analyze it: why not parse it as layered coordination: at the first layer, "middle aged" is coordinated with "sallow complexion"(AdjP + PP), and then at the higher layer, "was middle-aged, of sallow complexion" with "had penetrating blue eyes." (VP + VP).

The point is there is no coordination but only juxtaposition between "middle-aged" and "of sallow complexion," which renders the sentence defective. You can have different levels or layers of coordination if there are coordinators, for example:

- He was middle-aged and of sallow complexion, and had penetrating blue eyes. (I don't like this sentence either, but at least it is grammatically superior to the original one.)

The second "and" which I highlighted in yellow is at a higher level than the first one, because it joins two verb phrases. Instead, the first "and" only joins two parts of the subject complement within one of the verb phrases.

The point is there is no coordination but only juxtaposition between "middle-aged" and "of sallow complexion," which renders the sentence defective. You can have different levels or layers of coordination if there are coordinators, for example:

- He was middle-aged and of sallow complexion, and had penetrating blue eyes. (I don't like this sentence either, but at least it is grammatically superior to the original one.)

The second "and" which I highlighted in yellow is at a higher level than the first one, because it joins two verb phrases. Instead, the first "and" only joins two parts of the subject complement within one of the verb phrases.

There is asydetic coordination, as well as syndetic coordination:

,

But I think you are spot on. This kind of coordination is rare and defective. That's why "middle-aged, of sallow complexion, " is not deemed as a layer of coordination.

Thank you, Gustavo.

Attachments

Images (1)
  • ,
Last edited by Robby zhu

Add Reply

×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×