Auxiliary Reduction in the comics

Today’s Bizarro, with a pun on contractions:

The linguistic contractions in question are instances of what’s become known in the trade as Auxiliary Reduction — reduced versions of (certain) auxiliary verbs, which then form a unit with the immediately preceding word. In the examples in the cartoon, the auxiliaries that are reduced are is (or, less likely but still in principle possible, has) and are, and the preceding word in each case is a personal pronoun subject (it, she, we). The resulting elements act in some ways like two-word sequences and in other ways like single words, so they present interesting analytic puzzles.

I’ve been studying Auxiliary Reduction in English since 1968-69, with

“Auxiliary Reduction in English” (Linguistic Inquiry, 1970)

as my first major writing on the subject. More recently, there’s

the abstract for the 1997 Pullum & Zwicky LSA paper “Licensing of prosodic features by syntactic rules: The key to auxiliary reduction”

Here’s a 1997 bibliography of relevant items, including the two above:

Grimshaw, Jane.  1997.  The best clitic: Constraint conflict in morphosyntax.  Liliane Haegeman (ed.), Elements of grammar: Handbook of generative syntax (Dordrecht: Kluwer), 169-96.

Halpern, Aaron L.  1995.  On the placement and morphology of clitics.  Stanford CA: CSLI Publications.

Hankamer, Jorge.  1971.  Constraints on deletion in syntax.  Yale Univ. Ph.D. diss.

Inkelas, Sharon & Draga Zec.  1993.  Auxiliary reduction without empty categories: a prosodic account.  Working Papers of the Cornell Phonetics Laboratory 8.205-53.

Kaisse, Ellen M.  1983.  The syntax of Auxiliary Reduction in English.  Lg. 59.93-122.

Kaisse, Ellen M.  1985.  Connected speech: The interaction of syntax and phonology.  New York: Academic Press.

King, Harold V.  1970.  On blocking the rule for contraction in English. LingI 1.134-6.

Klima, Edward S.  1964.  Negation in English.  Jerry A. Fodor & Jerrold J. Katz (eds.), The structure of language: Readings in the philosophy of language (Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice-Hall), 246-323.

Lakoff, George P.  1970.  Global rules.  Lg 46.627-39.

Potsdam, Eric.  1997.  Syntactic licensing of null VPs.  Paper presented at the 1997 LSA  meeting, Chicago.

Pullum, Geoffrey K.  1997.  The morpholexical nature of English to-contraction.  Lg. 73.

Pullum, Geoffrey K. & Arnold M. Zwicky.  1991.  Condition duplication, paradigm homonymy, and transconstructional constraints.  BLS 17.252-66.

Pullum, Geoffrey K. & Arnold M. Zwicky.  1996.  Enter a new headed morphological structure, exit a mythical contraction rule.  Paper presented at LSA Annual Meeting, San Diego CA.

Sadock, Jerrold M.  1991.  Autolexical syntax: A theory of parallel grammatical representations.  Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

Sag, Ivan A. & Janet Fodor.  1994.  Extraction without traces.  WCCFL 13.365-84.

Selkirk, Elisabeth O.  1984.  Phonology and syntax: The relation between sound and structure.  Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Sweet, Henry.  1890.  A primer of spoken English.  Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Sweet, Henry.  1908.  The sounds of English: An introduction to phonetics.  Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Wescoat, Michael.  1994.  Phrase structure, lexical sharing, partial ordering, and the English gerund.  BLS 20.587-98.

Zwicky, Arnold M.  1970.  Auxiliary reduction in English.  LingI 1.323-36.

Zwicky, Arnold M.  1994.  Dealing out meaning: Fundamentals of syntactic constructions.  BLS 20.611-25.

Zwicky, Arnold M.  1995/96.  Conditions in conflict.  Paper presented at NYU, Stanford, Berkeley, Georgetown, and WCCFL.

Zwicky, Arnold M. & Nancy S. Levin.  1980.  You don’t have .  LingI 11.631-6.

There’s been more since then, especially on pronoun + auxiliary cases, like the ones in the cartoon above.

One Response to “Auxiliary Reduction in the comics”

  1. Lauren Gundrum (@laurengundrum) Says:

    Haha great comic!

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