I consider more significant to be the development of a semantic theory

kanadaaa

Senior Member
Japanese (Tokai)
Hi, I have a question about the sentences below that involve unusual word order.

(1) More significant is the development of a semantic theory.
(2) No less corrupt was the ward boss.

My question is: Is it possible to embed these sentences under consider to form such sentences as:

(1') I consider more significant to be the development of a semantic theory.
(2') I consider no less corrupt to be the ward boss.

Since (1) and (2) themselves are unusual it might be difficult to tell, but I'm guessing these are bad, so I'd like to make sure whether this is true.
Thank you in advance.
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    As you expected, (1') and (2') don't work, kanadaa.

    They would work - in the right context - if you omitted "to be":
    (1*) I consider more significant the development of a semantic theory.
    (2*) I consider no less corrupt the ward boss.


    The right context would probably need to be a longer sentence, perhaps with a relative clause coming after semantic theory/ward boss.
     

    kanadaaa

    Senior Member
    Japanese (Tokai)
    As you expected, (1') and (2') don't work, kanadaa.
    Thank you, Loob!
    Let me ask some more related questions. First, does the same hold when the "fronted" phrase is a noun phrase?

    (3) Delinquency is a menace to our society. Also a menace are factory closings and fascist propaganda.
    (3') I consider a menace to be factory closings and fascist propaganda.

    Second, I think the second sentence in (3) could be put into an embedded clause, as in (4), but it's not possible to make a wh-question out of it, is it?

    (4) John says that a menace to our society are factory closings and fascist propaganda.
    (4') What does John say that a menace to our society are?

    We can definitely say (4'') What does John say is a menace to our society?, though. (Less importantly, can the is be are instead?)
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    (3') I consider a menace to be factory closings and fascist propaganda.
    o_O
    Can you explain your logic behind adding "to be" where you added it?
    What is it part of? Is it connected to 'consider' as in "I consider this sentence to be stranger than expected."?
    Or is it connected to 'menace' as in: "This is her husband-to-be -- or more likely her menace-to-be."

    Following could work - but of course that's a completely different sentence structure:
    (3'') I consider it a menace to be closing factories and spreading fascist propaganda.
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    (4') What does John say that a menace to our society are?

    No, plural doesn't work. "A menace to our society" is a connected noun phrase in the singular, so the verb must be 'is'.
    The same is true for (4'') What does John say is a menace to our society?

    I don't know what grammarians say about grammaticality of this, but the sentence is certainly comprehensible, even common in spoken form.
    This structure can be seen as "What - according to John - is a menace to society?" and semantically it works like an embedded question:
    "In John's opinion, what is a menace to society?"
    If you want to change it to plural, you need to add a plural subject: "..., what things are a menace to society?" By doing this, you change the singular "what" to the plural "what things".

    It should be noted that 4' is semantically different from 4''.
    In (4') What does John say that a menace to our society is? you're actually asking for John's definition of the term "a menace to society" and not an example of such a menace!
     

    kanadaaa

    Senior Member
    Japanese (Tokai)
    Then, (4''') below is ungrammatical because "a menace" is in the singular, right?

    (4''') What things does John say that a menace to our society are?
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Then, (4''') below is ungrammatical because "a menace" is in the singular, right?

    (4''') What things does John say that a menace to our society are?
    Not in general, because "a menace" is sort of an uncountable concept (despite the fact that you call it "a menace"!) This description probably violates several grammar rules, but well, it's the only description I can think of.
    It's correct to say: "According to John, what things are a menace to our society?"

    Your sentence 4''' is so strange that I don't even want to start analyzing it. ;)
    I'd express the same question as "What are the things that John considers a menace to our society?"
     
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