Lecture 16 – Summary Adverbials From the point of view of the message that is to be expressed in a clause (cf. lecture 14), a good deal of the information to be conveyed can only be expressed by means of adverbials. Adverbials fulfil a wide variety of functions: some of them can be used to express when and where the event represented by the proposition took place, while others can be used to express other accompanying circumstances, such as manner, cause and reason. Others again are used to focus on a particular part of a clause, to express the speaker’s (or writer’s) evaluation of the proposition, or to indicate the semantic relationship between the current clause and an earlier clause in the text. This lecture will primarily address the distinction between adverbs and adverbials, the different types of adverbials we can recognize, the different positions in the clause at which adverbials occur, and the semantic content expressed by different types of adverbials. 1. Adverbs, adverb phrases and adverbials Adverb is the term we use for a particular word class (cf. EGTU ch. 8). The vast majority of adverbs are formed from adjectives by the addition of the suffix -ly: happily, quickly, reluctantly. But there are also a number of very common adverbs which are not marked in any way to help us recognize them as adverbs, such as again, always, often, sometimes, seldom, never, now, then; here, there; therefore, thus; also, too; very, and several others. These form a closed set: new adverbs are typically formed by means of the suffix -ly. Adverb phrase is the term for a phrase with an adverb as Head. The adverb phrase can contain modifiers of various kinds, as in This happens very rarely. Nevertheless, it happens too often for my taste. or it can consist of only an adverb, as in They sometimes take a walk along the river. Adverbial is the term for a clause element or, if you like, a syntactic function, comparable to Subject, Verb, direct Object, etc. Note that there is no simple one-to-one correspondence between adverb (the word class) and adverbial (the clause element): at least some adverbs can function as Noun Phrase postmodifiers, as in the lecture today, and many of them can function as modifiers in Adjective Phrases and Adverb Phrases, as in extremely happy, very rarely; stupidly enough. Adverbials, for their part, can have a number of different realizations (cf. EGTU 10.4): adverb phrases (remember that even single adverbs count as adverb phrases when they function as adverbials!), prepositional phrases, as in Mary went to Paris last year, or noun phrases, as in Mary went to Paris last year. In addition, adverbials can be realized by clauses: finite clauses, as in John went home because he was tired, non-finite clauses, as in John stopped for a moment to catch his breath, or verbless clauses, as in If necessary, repeat the procedure. More about adverbial clauses in lectures 20 and 21. 2. Adverbial types From a syntactic point of view, we can recognize three types of adverbial in English, namely adjuncts, disjuncts and conjuncts. Of these, adjuncts are more closely integrated in the structure of the clause, whereas disjuncts and conjuncts are peripheral to the clause. Disjuncts are primarily used to provide some kind of comment on what is expressed in the clause, as in Fortunately, I found the ticket in time. Conjuncts are used to specify the semantic relation between the proposition expressed by the clause in which they occur and the proposition expressed by another clause in the text, as in the example John loves Cajun food; Mary, on the other hand, can’t stand it, where the conjunct on the other hand expresses the contrast between the two propositions. Adjuncts provide information about the circumstances in which the event took place (time, place, reason, manner, etc.), or modify the meaning of the whole, or part of the, proposition: After saying goodbye, she walked hesitantly towards the door. The first adjunct in the example above indicates when the event took place (time), the second adjunct indicates the manner in which the action was performed, and the third adjunct indicates the direction of her movement (place). The greater degree of integration of adjuncts in the structure of the clause can be shown in several ways. It is only among the adjuncts that we find adverbials that are syntactically obligatory (cf. the discussion of verb complementation types in lecture 14). Examples of this type are The milk is in the fridge. We keep the milk in the fridge. Unlike disjuncts and conjuncts, most adjuncts are affected by clause negation and can be the focused part in cleft constructions (more about these in lecture 18). In the examples below, D, C, and A represent disjunct, conjunct, and adjunct, respectively. D C A A Fortunately, however, she got to Harrods before they closed. Fortunately, however, she didn’t get to Harrods before they closed. Note that the meaning of the disjunct remains constant: in both cases, Fortunately indicates that the speaker regards the content of the following clause (regardless what that is) as 'a good thing'. The only way to negate the disjunct is by adding the prefix un- to the adverb. Similarly, the conjunct however also remains unaffected by the clause negation: in both cases, it indicates that there is some contrast between the current clause and an earlier part of the text (a natural lead-up to the first example might be She left home much later than she had intended, to the second, She had been spending far too much money during her day in London). The two adjuncts, on the other hand, are clearly affected by the negation: the second example above may be interpreted either as 'she got to Harrods, but not before they closed' or as 'she got to some other department store before they closed, but not to Harrods'. 3. Adverbial positions In the presentation of clause patterns in lecture 14 only obligatory adverbials, that is, valency adverbials, were included. The reason for this was that other adverbials can occupy so many different positions in the clause that we cannot specify these as easily as we can specify the internal order of the core clause elements such as Subject, Verb, indirect Object, direct Object, and so on. The following diagram summarizes the information on adverbial positions given in EGTU: The major positions are labelled Initial, Medial, and End. Initial here means a position before the Subject, Medial anywhere between the Subject and the last obligatory clause element, and End a position after the obligatory clause elements. The superscripts 1–4 have been added in the diagram to distinguish between different variants within the general Medial position. If there are no auxiliaries in the verb phrase, there will only be two possible Medial positions. If there are no obligatory clause elements after the Verb (i.e. the main verb is a one-place intransitive verb), there can be no M4 position. Initial position is typical of Disjuncts, as in Fortunately, no lives were lost in the fire. In Initial position we also often find Conjuncts, as in John left early. Nevertheless, he had seen more than he liked. Here we may also find Adjuncts which specify the background setting for an event, as in In the summer of 1991 John went back to Trinidad. Medial position is, generally speaking, typical of many adjuncts, as in Peter serenely accepted the offer. (M1) You never can tell. (M1) He might never have met her. (M2) She is being jealously guarded by her husband. (M3) He was still suspicious. (M4) but we may also find Disjuncts and Conjuncts here: They have probably never heard about you. (M3) John left early. He had, nevertheless, seen more than he liked. (M3) This is perhaps unnecessary. (M4) End position can be seen as the neutral position of, among others, time and place adverbials, from which they can be fronted, for example in accordance with the Information Principle (more of this in lecture 17). In other words, if they provide given information, or information that is backgrounded, they tend to be placed in Initial position. Have you seen my new car? I bought it in London last month. (new information) Last month I bought a new car. (backgrounded) The M4 position can be regarded as the position where adverbials in End position end up when an obligatory clause element, such as the direct Object, has been postponed, typically in accordance with the principle of end weight (EGTU 11.4). We may compare the following two examples: He denied the rumour vigorously. with the adverbial in End position, and He denied vigorously the rumour that he was about to resign. where the heavy postmodified direct Object noun phrase has been postponed, so that the adverbial ends up in M4 position. The question of the actual placement of adverbials is a large and complex one, which can’t be treated adequately within the space of this lecture. For more on this, see EGTU 10.9. Especially recommended is 10.9.6, which deals with differences in adverbial usage between English and Norwegian. 4. Semantic categories of adverbials All the three major types of adverbials — adjuncts, disjuncts and conjuncts — can express a number of different semantic categories, or meaning categories. The group of adjuncts exhibits the greatest amount of variation in this respect: of the fourteen different semantic categories of adjuncts recognized in EGTU, some have a number of important subcategories, so the total number of subcategories will be even greater than fourteen. 4.1 Adjuncts The major semantic categories of adjuncts are: Time adjuncts are used to specify various temporal characteristics of the event or situation represented by the clause, such as its location or extension in time. Thus we can recognize time adjuncts which refer to definite points in time or limited periods of time, as in He first met her in 1982. Other time adjuncts specify a time span in relation to the speech moment, either backward in time or forward in time, as in the example I’ve been here since last Friday, and I’m staying until Tuesday. Time adjuncts expressing duration, by contrast, are not oriented towards the speech moment: Mary lived in Sheffield for eight years. Time adjuncts can also be used to indicate frequency, that is, how often something happens, as in They go to Brighton every summer. Place adjuncts are used to specify the location of an event or a situation, as in They live in a small village. or to specify various features of movement, such as source (or starting-point), path, distance, and goal. In the example They walked from the church along the river to the market square. we find three space adjuncts expressing source, path and goal, respectively. Under the heading process adjuncts we may gather several subcategories which specify various important characteristics of the action expressed by the verb phrase. Thus within the category of process adjuncts we find adjuncts expressing manner, instrument, means, and agent, as in the following examples: He wiped his hands carefully on the towel. (manner) By spreading some nasty rumours he tried to discredit his opponent. (means) He signed the letter with a leaking fountain-pen. (instrument) Last year, 16 sheep were killed by wolverines here. (agent) Manner adjuncts are obligatory after normally transitive verbs (ergative verbs) when these are used intransitively to ascribe a permanent property to the referent of the subject (cf. lecture 14), as in Her skin bruises easily. The poem reads well. Similarly, under the heading contingency adjuncts we may gather four important categories, namely adjuncts of reason, purpose, condition, and concession. These adjunct types are usually realized as subclauses: finite, non-finite and verbless (more about these clause types in lectures 19–22). The characteristic subordinating conjunctions that signal these adjunct types are because, since, and as for reason, in order to + infinitive (or just a to-infinitive) for purpose, if or unless for condition, and although or though for concession: Sue stayed at home, because she had a cold. (reason) John stopped to catch his breath. (purpose) If necessary, repeat the procedure. (condition) It was cold, though the sun was shining. (concession) Degree adjuncts are used to indicate what we may call the intensity of the verbal action, either strengthening it or weakening it. This strengthening effect, or scaling upwards, is found with adverbs such as much, fully, highly, badly, as in John needed the money badly. The weakening effect, or scaling downwards, is found with adverbs such as little, slightly, somewhat. Little can be fronted, in which case the clause must undergo Subject-Auxiliary inversion, as in Little did he know what the future held in store for him. Focusing adjuncts are used in order to focus attention on a particular part of the clause, or to restrict the reference of the focused element. There is a fairly small class of adverbs that can be used as focusing adjuncts, e.g.: restrictive: alone, exclusively, just, merely, only, solely; chiefly, especially, mainly, notably, primarily, specifically additive: also, equally, even, likewise, similarly, too. The focused element often receives nuclear stress, as in Even Jòhn appreciated the smoked oysters. Viewpoint adjuncts are used to specify a particular point of view from which the proposition is to be seen. In the example Scientifically, the project was a huge success. the adverbial scientifically can be paraphrased as ‘from a scientific point of view’. Adverbs formed by adding the suffix -wise to a noun are commonly used as viewpoint adjuncts in informal English, especially American English: How are you doing, moneywise? Respect adjuncts are realized by prepositional phrases or subordinate clauses of the type as far as X is concerned. They serve to indicate in what respect the action described in the clause is/was/will be carried out, or in what respect a characterization is true. These adjuncts are easily moved to Initial position. As far as travelling facilities are concerned, we have obviously made a popular decision; but with respect to the date, many people are expressing dissatisfaction. He was in a thoroughly sound condition as regards intellect. 4.2 Disjuncts The semantic categories of disjuncts are: Fact-evaluating disjuncts are used to express the speaker’s evaluation, in emotional terms, of an event or situation that is taken be a fact, as in Fortunately, no lives were lost in the fire. Sadly, they never met again after the war. Modal disjuncts, on the other hand, are used to express the speaker’s views on how likely it is that the proposition is true; hence they are sometimes called truth-evaluating disjuncts. The meaning of modal disjuncts comes close to the meaning of modal auxiliaries expressing epistemic modality (cf. lecture 12). Typical examples would be Apparently, they never received your letter. Obviously, he must have misunderstood you. She may possibly be at home. As the last two examples show, it is possible for a modal, or truth-evaluating, disjunct to co-occur with a modal auxiliary expressing the same epistemic modality. Subject-evaluating disjuncts are used to express the speaker’s subjective evaluation of the actions of the referent of the subject: He sensibly refrained from further comments. Adverbs used as subject-evaluating disjuncts can be related to adjectives functioning as subject Predicatives with a clausal subject: S V sP That he refrained from further comments was sensible. Style disjuncts are used to express the speaker’s comment on how the message is worded or how the utterance is to be interpreted. As examples of the first use we may find expressions such as briefly, to put it gently, not to put too fine a point on it, and so on. Examples of the second type would be frankly, honestly, seriously, etc. The term comment disjunct will be used here for those disjunct types that lack a label in EGTU: comment clauses and sentential relative clauses. Both clause types will be taken up in greater detail in later lectures; for our present purposes we may note that both types allow the speaker to insert a clause element that provides a comment on the content of the rest of the clause. Comment clauses are often short, formulaic expressions: You know, I don’t think this is correct. Why are you so late? Well, you see, my car broke down, so I had to walk. A clause introduced by as can be used to comment on the communicative status of the utterance (already known to hearer, already stated by speaker, etc.): John has resigned, as you may have heard. As I keep saying, we can’t solve these problems without increased funds. A sentential relative clause, finally, allows the speaker/writer to insert any kind of comment on the content of a clause: John said he couldn’t help me, which is ridiculous. She forgot to sign the letter, which she was to regret later. 4.3 Conjuncts Conjuncts differ from other adverbials in that their impact goes beyond the individual clause or sentence; thus they serve to mark semantic relationships between propositions expressed by different clauses, or between larger sections of a text. In this respect their function resembles that of conjunctions (co-ordinating and subordinating), although there is greater positional variation to be found among the conjuncts. Most of the children wanted to go to the but Mary preferred to stay at home. beach, (conjunction) Most of the children wanted to go to the However, Mary preferred to stay at home. beach. (conjunct) Mary, however, preferred to stay at home. Mary preferred to stay at home, however. Conjuncts can be used to express the semantic relationship between propositions: comparison (similarly, likewise), contrast (on the other hand), concession (however, nevertheless), reason (therefore, because of that), result (consequently, in consequence, as a result). Conjuncts can be used to indicate the organization of a text: addition (in addition, furthermore), enumeration (first, secondly, finally), transition (by the way; meanwhile, in the meantime).
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