Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Innovation in functional categories: slash, a new coordinator in English 1

  • BRENT WOO (a1)
Abstract

This article presents an analysis of the distribution and syntactic behavior of the English expression slash, as in John is a linguist slash musician. The interpretation of this ‘effable slash’ is largely equivalent to intersective and, but it differs from other connective devices like Latin cum, N–N compounding and the orthographic slash </>. A corpus study of American English finds that slash is productive in this use. Its syntactic properties confirm its status as coordinator, but it is distinguished from standard coordinators and and or, in that it imposes category restrictions on the conjuncts: it cannot coordinate full clauses or noun phrases with determiners. I propose that words like slash, period and quote form a class of ‘effable punctuation’ that entered the spoken language from writing. In sum, by incorporating slash into the grammar of English, I argue that slash is a rare example of innovation in a ‘very closed’ functional category.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All
1

I would like to thank Bernd Kortmann and the two anonymous ELL reviewers for useful comments and suggestions. I am grateful to Barbara Citko, Kirby Conrod and Zac Smith for constructive comments. Material for this article was presented at the Linguistics Conference at the University of Georgia 3 (LCUGA 3) and I thank the audience for their comments. I am responsible for any remaining errors and omissions.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Bauer, Laurie. 2008. Dvandvas. Word Structure 1 (1), 120.
Bauer, Laurie. 2010. Co-compounds in Germanic. Journal of Germanic Linguistics 22 (3), 201–19.
Bergmann, Merrie. 1982. Cross-categorial semantics for conjoined common nouns. Linguistics and Philosophy 5, 399401.
Champollion, Lucas. 2016. Ten men and women got married today. Journal of Semantics 33 (3), 561622.
Chaves, Rui P. 2007. Coordinate structures: Constraint-based syntax-semantics processing. PhD dissertation, Universidade de Lisboa.
Citko, Barbara & Gračanin-Yuksek, Martina. 2016. Multiple (coordinated) (free) relatives. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 34, 393427.
Crystal, David. 2015. Making a point: The persnickety story of English punctuation. New York City: St Martin's Press.
Davies, Mark. 2008 –. The Corpus of Contemporary American English: 520 million words, 1990–present. corpus.byu.edu/coca (accessed September 2016).
Dell, Gary S. 1995. Speaking and misspeaking. In Gleitman, Lila, Liberman, Mark & Osherson, Daniel N. (eds.), An invitation to cognitive science, 183208. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Fábregas, Antonio & Scalise, Sergio. 2012. Morphology: From data to theories. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Fay, David & Cutler, Anne. 1977. Malapropisms and the structure of the mental lexicon. Linguistic Inquiry 8 (3), 505–20.
Fromkin, Victoria A. 1984. Speech errors as linguistic evidence. The Hague: De Gruyter Mouton.
Gleitman, Lila R. 1965. Coordinating conjunctions in English. Language 41 (2), 260–93.
Goldsmith, John. 1985. A principled exception to the coordinate structure constraint. Papers from the General Session at the 21st regional meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society 21, 133–43.
Haspelmath, Martin. 2004. Coordinating constructions. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Heycock, Caroline & Zamparelli, Roberto. 2005. Friends and colleagues: Plurality, coordination, and the structure of DP. Natural Language Semantics 13 (3), 201–70.
Johannessen, Janne Bondi. 1998. Coordination. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lakoff, George. 1986. Frame semantic control of the coordinate structure constraint. Papers from the 22nd Annual Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, 152–67.
Lang, Ewald. 1984. The semantics of coordination. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Lewis, Charlton T. & Short, Charles. 1879. A Latin dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon.
Mithun, Marianne. 1988. The grammaticalization of coordination. In Haiman, John & Thompson, Sandra A. (eds.), Clause combining in grammar and discourse, 331–59. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Olsen, Susan. 2000. Copulative compounds: A closer look at the interface between syntax and morphology. In Booij, Geert & van Marle, Jaap (eds.), Yearbook of morphology 2000, 279320. Amsterdam: Springer Netherlands.
Olsen, Susan. 2004. Coordination in morphology and syntax: the case of copulative compounds. In Meulen, Alice G. B. ter & Abraham, Werner (eds.), The composition of meaning: From lexeme to discourse, 1737. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Oxford English dictionary (OED), 2nd edition. 1989. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Prażmowska, Anna. 2015. Is unlike coordination against the law of the coordination of likes. Proceedings of the Fourth Central European Conference in Linguistics for Postgraduate Students (CECIL'S 4), 169–84.
Renner, Vincent. 2008. On the semantics of English coordinate compounds. English Studies 89 (5), 606–13.
Renner, Vincent. 2013. English cum, a borrowed coordinator turned complex compound marker. Morphology 23, 5766.
Ross, John Robert. 1967. Constraints on variables in syntax. PhD dissertation, MIT.
Sag, Ivan A., Gazdar, Gerald, Wasow, Thomas & Weisler, Steven. 1985. Coordination and how to distinguish categories. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 3, 117–71.
Williams, Edwin. 1978. Across-the-board rule application. Linguistic Inquiry 9 (1), 3143.
Zoerner, Cyril Edward. 1995. Coordination: The syntax of &P. PhD dissertation, University of California, Irvine.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

English Language & Linguistics
  • ISSN: 1360-6743
  • EISSN: 1469-4379
  • URL: /core/journals/english-language-and-linguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 10
Total number of PDF views: 51 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 425 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 28th December 2017 - 27th May 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.