The speaker is (almost) always topical

From my dangler files, this recent entry:

Z4.81 PRP-I-0-1P  Growing up in Chicago in th ’40’s “crickets” were popular, a useless but irritatingly noisy toy. Since replaced by bubble wrap. (Paul Johnson on ADS-L 3/12/15)

The crucial codes are the last two, 0-1P, having to do with where to find the referent for the missing subject of the predicational adjunct (0: no referent in the linguistic context) and the features of this referent (1P: 1st person singular; that is, the referent is the speaker of the sentence).

The adjunct thus frames the content of the main clause as representing the speaker’s thoughts or experiences, and in general 0-1P adjuncts (while impressive examples of classical “dangling modifiers”) are surprisingly acceptable, and not uncommon. And there’s a reason for that.

The adjunct in the Johnson example is an X-SPAR (all such counting as “dangling modifiers” in traditional terms), as defined in this posting, which takes up some special cases, including ASA adjucts (beginning with as a). ASA adjuncts are in general more acceptable that you might have thought, even more so since so many are also 0-1P adjuncts. One example from many:

Z4.57. ASA-NP-I-0-1P   As an alum working for the U.S. government in the immigration agrena, it is good to see PAW shedding some light on the complexity of the system. (letter to Princeton Alumni Weekly, 6/6/12, from Peter Schmalz ’89 of Essex Junction VT)

Now, one observation I have made again and again in my postings on danglers is that when the referent of the missing subject is highly topical at this point in the discourse, many examples that seem unacceptable in isolation are improved enormously when they are seen in their linguistic context. From that, we would expect that 0-1P adjuncts would be generally pretty acceptable: the speaker is (almost) always highly topical in discourse; we are major participants in most discourse contexts, and our thoughts and experiences are very important to us.

Some 0-1P examples not of the ASA type:

Z4.15. SUB(while)-PRP-I-0-1P   While preparing this appendix, a remarkable revelation appeared in the form of the peculiar manufacturers’ numbers that are written inside every pair of ruby slippers. (Rhys Thomas, The Ruby Slippers of Oz, p. 225)

Z4.52. SUB(while)-PRP-I-0-1P   While listening to SiriusXM radio’s 50’s channel this morning they played the novelty song ‘Alley Oop’ (the older members will undoubtedly recall the exceedingly silly song). (Geoff Nathan posting to ADS-L 4/20/12)

Z4.58. PRP-I-0-1P   Living in Catalonia this year and actually researching bilinguals the contrasts and similarities [to the situation in Montreal] are striking. (comment by Michael Newman on Language Log, 6/16/12)

Z4.64. PRP-I-0-1P   “Growing up in California, it was illegal for Asians to marry whites. How times have changed. I married a white DUDE. And an adorable one, too!” ~George Takei (on Facebook 8/20/12)

Z4.75. PRP(HV)-I-0-1P   “The Palace of Fine Arts is a citywide asset but it’s also smack in the middle of a neighborhood,” said Supervisor Mark Farrell, whose district includes the neighborhood and a member of the advisory panel. “Having grown up two blocks away, it’s been a magnet for family and young children for decades and I’d like to see that continue.” (second-last paragraph of: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/School-for-boys-to-lease-Exploratorium-4209885.php —  from Ned Deily 1/21/13)

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