What is this phrase? (Ellipsis, repetition)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by esoid, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. esoid

    esoid New Member

    English American
    From Flann Obrien's Third Policeman: "Come Monday there would be no wild leaves to brush on any face, no bees in the gusty wind." I see these sort of end phrases a lot. Am I right in saying they are a subordinate clause of some kind? Are they even grammatically correct or just a stylistic exception? Also if you were to add a conjunction after the comma, could the conjunction stand without the comma? thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
  2. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    Please tell us the source of your quote. (See Source.) And be sure to give your thread a useful title.
     
  3. EStjarn

    EStjarn Senior Member

    Spanish
    Thanks for editing the original post. It's not a subordinate clause, I'd say, but an example of ellipsis: "the omission from a clause of one or more words that would otherwise be required by the remaining elements," (Wikipedia). The words omitted in the topic sentence are 'and there would be'.

    As for whether it is grammatically correct, the Wiki article claims that "there are numerous distinct types of ellipsis acknowledged in theoretical syntax." Browsing the different types listed, I'd say we have here an instance of gapping, which is a type of ellipsis that "occurs in coordinate structures. Redundant material that is present in the immediately preceding clause can be 'gapped'. This gapped material usually contains a finite verb."

    Then you ask: if I were to add a conjunction, could it stand without a comma? My opinion is that if that conjunction was 'and', and the rest of the omitted words remained implicit, a comma would be wrong:

    Come Monday there would be no wild leaves to brush on any face and no bees in the gusty wind.

    If the sentence was made entirely explicit, you could choose either alternative. Personally I would lean toward keeping the comma:

    Come Monday there would be no wild leaves to brush on any face, and there would be no bees in the gusty wind.
     
  4. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Canada
    Mandarin 國語
    I would call it an example of asyndetic coordination, a rhetorical device to highlight the rhythm (Note: Without the explicit marker "and", the readers/listeners look for clues from sounds and parallelism for the linkage), to create an escalating effect, and sometimes (especially when serving as attributives) to imply incomplete listing. It is a common device, employed in the well-known phrase "government of the people, by the people, for the people". It usually involves repetition (e.g., of the people, by the people, for the people), either the same words or similar sounds.

    The repetition used in the OP sentence is highlighted as follows: "There would be no wild leaves to brush [ʌ] on any face, no bees in the gusty [ʌ] wind." If we add “and” to that sentence, the rhetorical effect the original sentence is capable of producing will be taken away.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
  5. SevenDays Senior Member

    Spanish
    Aside from what's been said, that end phrase is not a clause (it has no conjugated verb); the end phrase is an absolute phrase: it functions as subject in its own structure (which is set off by a comma) without a predicate. Notice that the sentence has an existential "there," and that means that "true/notional" subject comes later. Here, "would be" has two notional subjects (no wild leaves to brush on any face would be there come Monday; no bees in the gusty wind would be there come Monday), which is why a comma is used in the original construction.
     
  6. esoid

    esoid New Member

    English American
    Oh thanks everyone my curiosity is fully satisfied!
     
  7. gramman

    gramman Senior Member

    >>my curiosity is fully satisfied!

    Not mine! :)

    >> If we add “and” to that sentence, the rhetorical effect the original sentence is capable of producing will be taken away.

    If "and" is added, and the comma is retained, is this effect preserved?

    Sorry if this has already been answered.

    It seems to me that if "and" is added and the comma removed, it might not be as clear to the reader, who could be, at least temporarily led into reading it as:

    "Come Monday there would be no wild leaves to brush on any face and no bees …"

    Obviously, it would be nonsensical to write of leaves brushing no bees. Nevertheless, I would use a comma there to leave the reader with no doubt that the "and" refers back to "things that there would be none of."
     
  8. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Canada
    Mandarin 國語
    No, in my opinion, in terms of the extra emphasis on rhythm and on the repeated words and sounds. Asyndeton is to create a “boom, Boom, BOOM” effect or “no, NO” effect, which is meant to be emphatic, emotional, or dramatic. “No this, and no that” sounds more like a mundane, monotone statement.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
  9. gramman

    gramman Senior Member

    >>mundane, monotone

    Adjectives like these are sometimes ascribed to my writing style. :(
     
  10. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Canada
    Mandarin 國語
    Good writing entails variety and emphasis. "Boom, boom, boom" all the way through is not good, either. Don't get me wrong. "No this, and no that" has its place in writing as well. To illustrate the contrast in emphasis between asyndetic coordination (without the marker "and") and syndetic coordination (with the marker "and"), here is an example of syndetic coordination: "She cried and cried and cried."--Her crying became nonstop, habitual, monotone, annoying......
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
  11. gramman

    gramman Senior Member

    Ahh, when you add "annoying," you get to my off-topic, chatty forum posts. :rolleyes:
     

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