INVERSIONS ANDDELETIONS IN ENGLISHPOETRY(BY GEORGE DILLON)REPORTERS: Peggy Orbe & MatthewNepomuceno
Let us analyze the lyrics of a popular song…Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy But heres my number, so call me maybeIts hard to look right, at you baby But heres my number, so call me maybe What is the function of the word“maybe” in the song?Is there anything unusual or oddin the syntactic arrangement of wordsin this song?
Definition of Key Terms(from Radford, A. (2009). Analysing English Sentences: A Minimalist Approach. New York: CambridgeUniversity Press) 1. DELETION- a phenomenon involving omission of redundant information in a sentence (e.g information which has been mentioned in the preceding discourse, or which can be inferred from the context). There are two rather different kinds of deletion operation: one involving the omission of heads, the other of maximal projections
Definition of Key Terms(from Radford, A. (2009). Analysing English Sentences: A Minimalist Approach. New York: CambridgeUniversity Press) 2. INVERSION- the movement of parameters (e.g. WH, Null subject, and Head position) within a sentence (e.g. forming interrogative sentences from declarative sentences) 3. GAPPING - The omission of a verb in the second of two coordinate clauses, as in Iwe nt by bus a nd M ry (we nt) by c a r a 4. ISLAND-CHOPPING- removal of elements (e.g. D.O.) by transformations like Topicalization or PP- Fronting
Definition of Key Terms(from Radford, A. (2009). Analysing English Sentences: A Minimalist Approach. New York: CambridgeUniversity Press) 5. TOPICALIZATION- a movement operation that puts the topic of a discourse at the front of the over all sentence. According to Szabolcsi (2002), it is a type of chopping. Note the function of the phrase Tha t kind o f be ha vio ur in the sample below Speaker a: The demonstrators have been looting shops and setting fire to cars Speaker b: That kind of behaviour, we cannot tolerate in a civilised society
Dillon’s Article… Compares the Inversions and deletions in English Poetry from Spencer to the Victorian with the Inversion and Deletion of the Modern English Prose. He concludes that Style is a choice. He attempts to categorize the difference between the two sets of rules-showing the poetic rules to be extension of deviations from the ordinary English Transformations.
• He gives poetic examples of the rule of extensions and deviations.• He outlines the ways in which poets use these deletions and inversions: a. Presentational b. Imitative c. Prosodic
First Part- describes the poetic transformation Second part –surveys some of the poetic purposes served by them.
The actual inversions and deletions can be described by rules which resembles common optional transformations, but differ from them in certain ways.
It is well known that English Poets from Spencer to the Victorians employ certain inversions and deletions in their poetry which were described in Classical and Renaissance rhetorics as SCHEMES OF WORDS.
The re-orderings and deletions are characteristics of poets from Spencer to Tennyson BUT still common in Modern, Non- poetic English.
There are rules which 1. operate as in non-poetic Modern English but a. Affect a a broader range of elements (e.g. deletions under identity) b. Are ordered or written slightly differently ( Topicalization, PP fronting) c. Are triggered by a broader range of environments (S-V inversion)
2. differ from any rule of (Verb-final)3. affect structures which are normally islands (immune to chopping)
• They characterize unusualness of syntax – they are viewed as relaxation of constraints of transformations in Modern English
1.1 Deletion of Subjects and DirectObject(D.O.)Conjunction Reduction and Gapping - in Modern English delete certain elements in conjoined structures under identity. - deletes the first two identical D.O.’s when it is the last element in the VP:
John killed (the gam and Mary cleaned, the e), game. Conjunction Reduction also deletes the subject of the second conjunct when it is identical to the subject of the first: John killed and (M ary) cleaned the game.
• Gapping deletes the second verb or ADJ Predicate.• John killed a bear and Mary (killed), a lynx.• VP deletion usually leaves an Auxillary verb or D.O. when deleting a second VP, but some writers describe it as leaving no trace, or allowing the trace to be deleted:• John killed a bear, and Mary (did so) too/as well / also.
Examples of unusual deletions: where the deleted element would normally be pronominal in Modern English. D.O.’s are deleted to the right:1. For this infernal Pit shall never hold Celestial Spirits in Bondage, nor th’ Abyss Long under darkness cover… ( D.O. ) Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 1.
2. Chaste matrons praise her, and grave Bishops bless; ( ) (A x a nd e r Po p e , “Ep i. Sa t. ” 1 . 1 46 ) le3. For she can so informThe mind that is within us, ( s ) so impress With quietness and beauty, ( s ) and so feedWith lofty thoughts, that…. (Wordsworth, “Tintern Abbey”)
In Hankamer’s account of Conjunction Deletion, there were constraint, however, against gapping.Gapping - The omission of a verb in the second of two coordinate clauses, as in Iwe nt by bus a nd M ry (we nt) by c a r a
In the stanzas below, there are cases of deletion of the second subject, when not identical to the first subject but rather to the D.O. or other NP in the first sentence. Nor do we find him forward to be sounded But (?) with crafty madness keeps aloof. (Shakespeare, “Hamlet”)
For Cloten,There was no diligence in seeking him And (?) will no doubt be found (Shakespeare, “Cymbeline”)
This is that banished haughty Montague… And here (?) is come (Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet”)
When rocks impregnable are not so stout, Nor gates of steel so strong, but time decays( DO ) (Shakespeare, Sonnets, 65)
Wond’ring at my flight and change To this high exaltation; suddenlyMy guide was gone, and I methought, __ sunk down. (Milton, “Paradise Lost”)
This freedom of deletion of subjects under identity is not confined to poetry, and these deletions are among the relatively unusual options the poets allow themselves but they are not unique in the poetic language
1.2 Fronting TransformationsMost of the rules of Modern English that frontconstituents are used by these poets:Topicalization, Left -Dislocation, PP - fronting,Adjective Phrase Preposing.The author assumed that PP Fronting thoughformally very similar to NP Fronting, is a distinctrule. It was said that both are frequently appliedto the same sentence,
The usual order of application seems to be NP, then PP-fronting, so that the D.O. immediately precedes the subject: PP D.O. S VPAnd over all a blacke stole shee did throw (Spenser, “Faerie Queene”)
2. From the Pope’s Essay on Criticism: PP DO S V Against the poets their own arms they turn’d3. From Pope’s Epilogue to the Satires:PP DO S VIn golden Chains the willing world she draws
Form Milton’s Paradise Lost: DOBy falsities and lies the greatest part S VOf Man kind they corrupted
1.3 Subject-Verb Inversion:According to Emonds, the following elements optionally or obligatory trigger S/V Inversion:Directional adverbs, PPs: Away ran John. Into the house ran the cat.NEG-Advs: seldom, never, rarely,Compared adjs.: Most important has been the secretary’s testimony.
Locative PP: On every walls hangs a portrait of LeninS/V inversion is optionally triggered by other preposed elements:
Preposed /adjective and participles (Inversion usually only in be, not seem or appear. From Wordsworth’s Prelude: Vain is her wish From Keat’s Ode to a Nightingale: Tender is the night
From Tennyson’s Tithonus: Coldly thy rosy shadows bathe me, cold are all thy lights, and cold my withered feet Upon thy glimmering threshold. From Milton’s Paradise Lost: Pleasing was his shape And lovelly
From Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus:Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight,And burned is Apollo’s laurel bough.
b. Time Adverbials From Tennyson’s Tithonus: After many a summer dies the swan From Shakespeare’s Henry IV: Now shall though be moved.
c. So: thereforeFrom Shakespeare’s Ha m le t: So have I a noble father lostFrom Milton’s Pa ra d is e Lo s t: So shall the world go on, To good (men) malignant, to bad men benign, Under her own weight groaning.
From Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey: Therefore am I still A lover of the meadows and the woodsd. Direct ObjectFrom Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Full many a glorious morning have I seen
From Shakespeare’s Hamlet: But answer made it none
RULES OF TYPE (ii): Verb-final and Prep./ NP-Inversion2.1 Verb FinalAll of these poets employ optional rule which inverts a verb and its complement. The rule is called Verb- final, though it must be written to apply either to AUX + ADV + V or just so V, and to all the complement to the verb or just the D.O. Further, the V may be participial, or, more rarely, ADJ: From Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing: And sait too little which may season give To her foul tainted flesh (may season give )
From Faerie Queene:She had this knight from far compeld. From Absalom and Achitophel:a. With secret joy indulgent David viewedHis youthful image in his son renewed
From Wordsworth’s Prelude:Where’er she turns, she findsImpediments from day today renewedFrom Pope’s Essay on Criticism:What to your sense is due.
2.2 Prep./ Inversion NP Henry Peacham (1577) noted an abuse by poets which involves the inversion of the Prep. And NP of a PP Examples “All Italy about I went” instead of “I went about all Italy” “Now hope and fear between I stand” instead of “I stand between hope and fear” (from The G a rd e n o f Elo q ue nc e ) This is common in Spenser (e.g. Faerie Queene), Shakespeare, and other Elizabethan writers It is not used by poets later than Shakespeare
3. Rules of Type ii: Island-Chopping A syntactic group is an “Island” if it is immune to the removal (chopping) of it elements by such transformations as Topicalization or PP-Fronting The classic example of an Island is a Co-ordinate NP. When the second of two coordinate D.O.’s is topicalized, the result is bad: Zoraida Juan Kissed Petra and* Instead of: Juan kissed Petra and Zoraida
3. Rules of Type ii: Island-Chopping Dillon argues that while it is “odd” it’s not a radical oddity since Milton employs this in Paradise Lost1.He mark’d (his gestures fierce) and mad demeanor2. Sea he had searcht and Land *he had searcht (Sea) and Land
3. Rules of Type ii: Island-Chopping In the example below, there is PP-Fronting (fo r c o nte m p la tio n) and Verb-Final. Notice that the co- ordinate NP does seem to have been split For contemplation hee and valor form’d For softness shee and sweet attractive grace *he e (fo rm ’ d ) (va lo r) (Fo r c o nte m p la tio n) a nd (She e ) Fo r (s we e t) s o ftne s s a nd a ttra c tive g ra c e
3. Rules of Type ii: Island-Chopping In the example below, Verb-Final seems to have inverted the participial adjective with the (Prep) and first NP of a co-ordinate structure: he seem’d For dignity compos’d and high exploit *he s e e m ’ d compos’d (Fo r d ig nity ) a nd hig h e x p lo it
3. Rules of Type ii: Island-Chopping The example below, seems derived by PP- preposing (to p la c e be fo re o r in fro nt o f s o m e thing ) of to him next to the verb (a usual transformation of English), followed by Verb-Final again moving the V into a co-ordinate NP For wee to him indeed all praises owe And daily thanks *For wee (owe) to him indeed all praises And daily thanks
3. Rules of Type ii: Island-ChoppingLet’s compare it with the popular 70s song by theBritish band REAL THING Oh you to me are everything The sweetest song that I could sing Oh baby Oh baby *Oh you (are everything) to me
3. Rules of Type ii: Island-Chopping The example below is an unusual splitting of co- ordinate NPs which are complements to the noun no is e . where the noise Of riot ascends above their loftiest Tow’rs, And injury and outrage (Paradise Lost) *where the noise (And injury and outrage) Of riot ascends above their loftiest Tow’rs,
3. Rules of Type ii: Island-ChoppingWith all these “controversies” in thetransformation of conjunction reduction,deletion, and gapping, Dillon concludesthat “… it is p re m a ture to c o nc lud e tha tc e rta in line s vio la te the Co -o rd ina teStruc ture Co ns tra int o r re q uire a s p e c ia l‘p o e tic a l’ kind o f o p e ra tio n to d e rive the m ”
Preliminary Conclusions1. It is impossible to draw a sharp line between poetic inversion and deletion and ordinary optional transformations. This is clear in the case of the deletions considered and Subj/V inversion.2. It is undesirable to do so because we would miss the degree of similarity involved
Possible functions and motives of INVERSIONS and DELETIONS1. Presentational- the ordering of information inthe sentence… To focus on a constituent by fronting it, or to front old information (theme) To establish a parallelism with the patterning of information of previous lines To delay a piece of information for climactic effect Example: And now his heart Distends with pride, and hardning in his strength Glories
Possible functions and motives of INVERSIONS and DELETIONS2. Imitative- the representations of complexpsychological experiences (e.g. confusion,growing apprehension, deceptive ormisinterpreted experience) In Stanley Fish’s Surp ris e d by Sin, he discusses that in many passages in Paradise Lost, the reader is forced by syntax to repeat in himself the experience being described In Wordsworth’s Pre lud e there is similar use of inversion to represent the mind groping toward illumination Pope also uses inversions and deletions this way
Pleasures the sex, as children Birds, pursue, Still out of reach, yet never out of view, Sure, if they catch, to spoil the Toy at most To covet flying, and regret when lost:At last, to follies Youth could scarce defend, ‘Tis half their Age’s prudence to pretend (Pope, Moral Essays)
Possible functions and motives of INVERSIONS and DELETIONS3. Prosodic Effects-there are several prosodicfunctions of inversions and deletions such as: Movements to get a rhyme-word (c.f. “call me maybe”) Movements to render a line metrical, or less metrically complex Movements to manipulate a caesura or other pauses in the line
Dillon’s Conclusions1. “The lines examined do not differ formally from the output of various optional rules of Modern English.”2. “…a number of lines which appear to violate Island constraints turned out not to do so…”3. “…this is the way most poets desired and expected to be read…”4. “We cannot appreciate the intricacy, and the power, of this language unless we, as readers, do [syntactic analysis]”
My take on these inversions anddeletions… In this day and age Where life passes at the turn of the page, Slow down And grope for wisdom; savor the taste And make no haste; chew the text Till you’re no longer perplexed; digest the information and absorb the inversions and deletions Till we see the path to illumination! (1/18/2013)