Discussion:
Parsing Problem
(too old to reply)
DKleinecke
2018-01-20 22:52:46 UTC
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I encountered the following sentence in a Victorian writer:
The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and
generous, his nature too honest and sincere, for him not
to take at once and forever the part of the wronged,
however humble, as against the wrong-doer, however
powerful.
and I wonder whether anyone might help me parse it.

The problem is the predicate adjectival phrase
too broad and generous, his nature too honest and sincere,
for him not to take at once and forever the part of the
wronged, however humble, as against the wrong-doer,
however powerful.
This phrase follows the well-known pattern
too ADJECTIVE INFINITIVE
with the INFINITIVE expanded by a subject and negation. But
the ADJECTIVE has been doubled.
too broad and generous and his nature too honest and
sincere
does not help the parse. The copula is still missing.

I accept the sentence as good English but I don't know how
to parse it. Anyone have any ideas.
António Marques
2018-01-21 00:32:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by DKleinecke
The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and
generous, his nature too honest and sincere, for him not
to take at once and forever the part of the wronged,
however humble, as against the wrong-doer, however
powerful.
and I wonder whether anyone might help me parse it.
The problem is the predicate adjectival phrase
too broad and generous, his nature too honest and sincere,
for him not to take at once and forever the part of the
wronged, however humble, as against the wrong-doer,
however powerful.
This phrase follows the well-known pattern
too ADJECTIVE INFINITIVE
with the INFINITIVE expanded by a subject and negation. But
the ADJECTIVE has been doubled.
too broad and generous and his nature too honest and
sincere
does not help the parse. The copula is still missing.
I accept the sentence as good English but I don't know how
to parse it. Anyone have any ideas.
Would

Always was his mind too broad and generous, his nature too honest and
sincere, for him not
to take at once and forever the part of the wronged,
however humble, as against the wrong-doer, however
powerful.

pose the same problem?
DKleinecke
2018-01-21 03:30:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by António Marques
Post by DKleinecke
The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and
generous, his nature too honest and sincere, for him not
to take at once and forever the part of the wronged,
however humble, as against the wrong-doer, however
powerful.
and I wonder whether anyone might help me parse it.
The problem is the predicate adjectival phrase
too broad and generous, his nature too honest and sincere,
for him not to take at once and forever the part of the
wronged, however humble, as against the wrong-doer,
however powerful.
This phrase follows the well-known pattern
too ADJECTIVE INFINITIVE
with the INFINITIVE expanded by a subject and negation. But
the ADJECTIVE has been doubled.
too broad and generous and his nature too honest and
sincere
does not help the parse. The copula is still missing.
I accept the sentence as good English but I don't know how
to parse it. Anyone have any ideas.
Would
Always was his mind too broad and generous, his nature too honest and
sincere, for him not
to take at once and forever the part of the wronged,
however humble, as against the wrong-doer, however
powerful.
pose the same problem?
Sure. Your sentence is an unusual cleft version of the first.
Horace LaBadie
2018-01-21 03:56:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by DKleinecke
The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and
generous, his nature too honest and sincere, for him not
to take at once and forever the part of the wronged,
however humble, as against the wrong-doer, however
powerful.
and I wonder whether anyone might help me parse it.
The problem is the predicate adjectival phrase
too broad and generous, his nature too honest and sincere,
for him not to take at once and forever the part of the
wronged, however humble, as against the wrong-doer,
however powerful.
This phrase follows the well-known pattern
too ADJECTIVE INFINITIVE
with the INFINITIVE expanded by a subject and negation. But
the ADJECTIVE has been doubled.
too broad and generous and his nature too honest and
sincere
does not help the parse. The copula is still missing.
I accept the sentence as good English but I don't know how
to parse it. Anyone have any ideas.
"too broad and secure" modifies "mind."
"too honest and secure" modifies "nature."
Arnaud Fournet
2018-01-21 04:21:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by DKleinecke
The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and
generous, his nature too honest and sincere, for him not
to take at once and forever the part of the wronged,
however humble, as against the wrong-doer, however
powerful.
and I wonder whether anyone might help me parse it.
Is "and I wonder whether anyone might help me parse it." part of the sentence to parse? :);)
Arnaud Fournet
2018-01-21 04:29:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by DKleinecke
The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and
generous, his nature too honest and sincere, for him not
to take at once and forever the part of the wronged,
however humble, as against the wrong-doer, however
powerful.
I would analyze as follows:

The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and generous,
=> main clause with "was" as verbal nucleus

his nature [~] too honest and sincere,
=> parallel clause with implicit nucleus,

for him not to take at once and forever the part of the wronged,
=> infinitive negative clause,
however humble,
=> refers to the wronged

as against the wrong-doer,
=> subclause of the infinitive clause, with "as" as logical coordinator,
however powerful.
=> refers to the wrong-doer.
DKleinecke
2018-01-21 06:20:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Arnaud Fournet
Post by DKleinecke
The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and
generous, his nature too honest and sincere, for him not
to take at once and forever the part of the wronged,
however humble, as against the wrong-doer, however
powerful.
The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and generous,
=> main clause with "was" as verbal nucleus
his nature [~] too honest and sincere,
=> parallel clause with implicit nucleus,
But you haven't addressed how the two clauses combine
into one adjective phrase. The internal structure of the
infinitive phrase is not involved here - so the rest of
your points don't matter.
Post by Arnaud Fournet
for him not to take at once and forever the part of the wronged,
=> infinitive negative clause,
however humble,
=> refers to the wronged
as against the wrong-doer,
=> subclause of the infinitive clause, with "as" as logical coordinator,
however powerful.
=> refers to the wrong-doer.
Arnaud Fournet
2018-01-21 11:55:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by DKleinecke
Post by Arnaud Fournet
Post by DKleinecke
The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and
generous, his nature too honest and sincere, for him not
to take at once and forever the part of the wronged,
however humble, as against the wrong-doer, however
powerful.
The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and generous,
=> main clause with "was" as verbal nucleus
his nature [~] too honest and sincere,
=> parallel clause with implicit nucleus,
But you haven't addressed how the two clauses combine
into one adjective phrase. The internal structure of the
infinitive phrase is not involved here - so the rest of
your points don't matter.
I don't understand !?
It's obvious to me that
1. The mind of President Garfield [was] too broad and generous,
and
2. his nature [~] too honest and sincere
are entirely parallel clauses, allbeit for the presence or absence of copula "to be".
Where's the issue, according to you?
A.
Peter T. Daniels
2018-01-21 13:38:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Arnaud Fournet
Post by DKleinecke
Post by Arnaud Fournet
Post by DKleinecke
The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and
generous, his nature too honest and sincere, for him not
to take at once and forever the part of the wronged,
however humble, as against the wrong-doer, however
powerful.
The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and generous,
=> main clause with "was" as verbal nucleus
his nature [~] too honest and sincere,
=> parallel clause with implicit nucleus,
But you haven't addressed how the two clauses combine
into one adjective phrase. The internal structure of the
infinitive phrase is not involved here - so the rest of
your points don't matter.
I don't understand !?
It's obvious to me that
1. The mind of President Garfield [was] too broad and generous,
and
2. his nature [~] too honest and sincere
are entirely parallel clauses, allbeit for the presence or absence of copula "to be".
Where's the issue, according to you?
+1

It's a beautifully balanced, eloquent elegiac period, more Johnsonian than
Dickensian (or Twainian -- Garfield died, needlessly, in 1881).
DKleinecke
2018-01-21 20:07:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Arnaud Fournet
Post by DKleinecke
Post by Arnaud Fournet
Post by DKleinecke
The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and
generous, his nature too honest and sincere, for him not
to take at once and forever the part of the wronged,
however humble, as against the wrong-doer, however
powerful.
The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and generous,
=> main clause with "was" as verbal nucleus
his nature [~] too honest and sincere,
=> parallel clause with implicit nucleus,
But you haven't addressed how the two clauses combine
into one adjective phrase. The internal structure of the
infinitive phrase is not involved here - so the rest of
your points don't matter.
I don't understand !?
It's obvious to me that
1. The mind of President Garfield [was] too broad and generous,
and
2. his nature [~] too honest and sincere
are entirely parallel clauses, allbeit for the presence or absence of copula "to be".
Where's the issue, according to you?
+1
It's a beautifully balanced, eloquent elegiac period, more Johnsonian than
Dickensian (or Twainian -- Garfield died, needlessly, in 1881).
The problem isn't obvious at first glance. The difficulty
I have is with the interaction of the statements about
Garfield and the "too A to ..." construction. I think what
happens when it is heard is that this is expanded to "too
A and too B to ... and the "and" ellipted. But "too A" is
not a node in the parse (in this case - if the infinitive
clause were missing it would be).

An example of what I mean by not a node is the unacceptable
sentence:
He messed and cleaned up.
where "mess" and "clean" are part of phrasal verbs in "up"

Ruud Harmsen
2018-01-21 18:12:57 UTC
Permalink
Sat, 20 Jan 2018 14:52:46 -0800 (PST): DKleinecke
Post by DKleinecke
The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and
generous, his nature too honest and sincere, for him not
to take at once and forever the part of the wronged,
however humble, as against the wrong-doer, however
powerful.
I don't see any problem here. The sentence was immediately clear to
me, and the structure I think is correct.

The only unusual thing about it is the time clause "at once and
forever" in the middle, whereas in English this is normally required
to be either at the end or at the beginning of the sentence. But such
deviations are sometimes permitted, to make the sentence sound better
or make it clearer, as I've often heard such things on BBC World
Service in the 1980s.
--
Ruud Harmsen, http://rudhar.com
Ruud Harmsen
2018-01-21 18:17:44 UTC
Permalink
Sat, 20 Jan 2018 14:52:46 -0800 (PST): DKleinecke
Post by DKleinecke
The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and
generous, his nature too honest and sincere, for him not
to take at once and forever the part of the wronged,
however humble, as against the wrong-doer, however
powerful.
and I wonder whether anyone might help me parse it.
The problem is the predicate adjectival phrase
too broad and generous, his nature too honest and sincere,
for him not to take at once and forever the part of the
wronged, however humble, as against the wrong-doer,
however powerful.
This phrase follows the well-known pattern
too ADJECTIVE INFINITIVE
with the INFINITIVE expanded by a subject and negation. But
the ADJECTIVE has been doubled.
too broad and generous and his nature too honest and
sincere
does not help the parse. The copula is still missing.
Which copula do you mean? "Was"? You mean it should have been
"The mind of President Garfield] was too broad and generous, [and]
his nature [was] too honest and sincere, for him not to [...]"

If so, I think leaving the second "was" out is permitted, and also
stylistically better. It sounds better that way. In English, German
and Dutch alike, it would venture to opinate.
Post by DKleinecke
to take at once and forever the part of the wronged,
however humble, as against the wrong-doe
--
Ruud Harmsen, http://rudhar.com
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