(Un?)expected main clause phenomena

Last modified: 15 Feb 01

Topicalization

English

The company … happens to be the company where I worked for 22 years and where for many years I was an executive.
(bill_hoffman@harcourt.com to kroch@linc.cis.upenn.edu, 27 October 2000.)

It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.
(R. Serling, cited in a logout fortune.)

I want a parser where all the decisions about the phrase structure, I can make myself.
(Tony Kroch, 20 September 2000, in conversation with Steven Bird.)

Throughout the day, Bajcsy repeats the presentation several times, trekking to the medical school and the hospital's radiology department, where for 90 minutes she discusses techniques for imaging mice.
(http://www.phillynews.com/sunmag/0416/feature3.shtml, accessed 18 April 2000.)

I don't know whether each year we're going to have to fight for it again.
(Rolf Noyer, 10 April 2000, in conversation with Eun-Sook Ko.)

That's why individually we have to know how to apply the principle correctly in each particular situation of life.
(The monks of New Skete. 1999. In the spirit of happiness. Little, Brown, and Company. 81.)

Finally, running out of options and fearing the worst, he asked the hotel clerk whether by chance anyone had happened to turn in a wallet within the past several hours.
(The monks of New Skete. 1999. In the spirit of happiness. Little, Brown, and Company. 146.)

… so it's not surprising that throughout history we've taken some bad turns.
(The monks of New Skete. 1999. In the spirit of happiness. Little, Brown, and Company. 181.)

If these did not flow from each individual's life of prayer and if in turn that prayer was not fed by them, the monks would be forced to disband.
(The monks of New Skete. 1999. In the spirit of happiness. Little, Brown, and Company. 272.)

The result of this process of maturation is a deepening awareness that in life we are always pilgrims.
(The monks of New Skete. 1999. In the spirit of happiness. Little, Brown, and Company. 289.)

the fact that last year we ran the Film Studies seminar
(Simon Richter, 8 September 1999, Plenary Meeting, German Department, University of Pennsylvania.)

I wonder whether some of it they make from sheep's milk.
(Beatrice Santorini, 20 July 1999, in a conversation concerning yogurt.)

The codfish lays a thousand eggs,
The homely hen lays one.
The codfish never cackles
To tell you what she's done.
And so we scorn the codfish,
While the humble hen we prize,
Which only goes to show you
That it pays to advertise.
(American rhyme. Cited in: Mark Kurlansky. 1997. Cod. A biography of the fish that changed the world. Penguin. 29.)

With the Atlantic long overworked by Europeans, the action has been switching to the Pacific, where not only are there large Japanese, Russian, American, and Korean fleets, but the Chinese, who do not have a history of international cooperation, have been notably enlarging their fishing capacity.
(Mark Kurlansky. 1997. Cod. A biography of the fish that changed the world. Penguin. 199.)

… Zack Busner signed one evening to Peter Wiltshire, with whom at last he had managed to arrange a proper grooming session …
(Will Self. 1997. Great apes. Penguin 267.)

The attachment from which against honour, against feeling, against every better interest he had outwardly torn himself, now, when no longer allowable, governed every thought
(Jane Austen. 1981. The complete novels. New York: Gramercy. 152.)

You all give me a feeling of being able to trust and confide in you, which in common intercourse one knows nothing of.
(Jane Austen. 1981. The complete novels. New York: Gramercy. 528.)

The journeys were all scaring, often beautiful, often grotesque, and here and there a blissful passage was attained that in my ignorance I took for religious experience.
(Peter Matthiessen. 1978. The snow leopard. New York: Viking. 39–40.)

I wonder if anywhere on earth there is a river more beautiful than the upper Suli Gad in early fall.
(Peter Matthiessen. 1978. The snow leopard. New York: Viking. 119.)

Across the crest fly the Tibetan snow finches that until now I have only seen across the distance, blowing in flurries through the blue.
(Peter Matthiessen. 1978. The snow leopard. New York: Viking. 197.)

Though now and then two females chase each other, the activity is mostly among the males.
(Peter Matthiessen. 1978. The snow leopard. New York: Viking. 207.)

He was drying off in the heated darkness of the Metropolitan Theater, where by virtue of his job he had a pass, still trying to get things straight.
(Bradford and Vena Angier. 1976. Wilderness wife. Radnor, PA: Chilton Book Company. 3.)

I realized it had suddenly grown much colder, as behind me Brad shouldered open the door.
(Bradford and Vena Angier. 1976. Wilderness wife. Radnor, PA: Chilton Book Company. 52.)

When in August 1896, the famous Klondike strike made its still visible history, thousands of Americans and others poured into the region.
(Bradford and Vena Angier. 1976. Wilderness wife. Radnor, PA: Chilton Book Company. 166.)

Encouraged by this discovery, and by the conviction that what a Norwegian can do, a Limey can copy, I cast on a likely number of stiches in rather pretty silver-gray heather kitting worsted.
(Elizabeth Zimmermann. 1971. Knitting without tears. New York: Simon and Schuster. 51.)

when his Uncle Wilberforce … had given him a check on which next day he had vainly tried to stop payment.
(P.G. Wodehouse. 1960. The most of P.G. Wodehouse. Simon and Schuster. 98–99.)

Ukridge's classical education had been cut short by the fact that at an early age he had unfortunately been expelled from the school of which in boyhood's days we had been fellow members, and Latin small talk was not his forte.
(P.G. Wodehouse. 1960. The most of P.G. Wodehouse. Simon and Schuster. 305.)

I … was sallying forth, when in the hall I ran into Jeeves.
(P.G. Wodehouse. 1960. The most of P.G. Wodehouse. Simon and Schuster. 509.)

but nothing could alter the fact that on the previous evening he had got engaged to be married to a girl without a bean
(P.G. Wodehouse. 1960. The most of P.G. Wodehouse. Simon and Schuster. 521.)

The reflection that during his stay at Claines Hall he was not likely to be given the run of the drawing room had not yet suggested itself.
(P.G. Wodehouse. 1960. The most of P.G. Wodehouse. Simon and Schuster. 555–556.)

You will understand why certain simple men, in old centuries, used to apologize to the family loaf if by accident they dropped it from the table.
(M.F.K. Fisher. 1954. How to cook a wolf. San Francisco: North Point. 77.)

Inversion and V2

English

To an observant, affectionate owner, an intelligent pet becomes a source of such amusement that only with difficulty do most pet owners refrain from regaling their friends with pet stories.
(Cheryl Mendelson. 1999. Home comforts. The art and science of keeping house. New York: Scribner. 637.)

Uranus is so dim that only recently have we learned that it has rings.
(WHYY Retrospective, Skytalk, 14 November 1999.)

Your clothing wears so well that not only do they last 'till my children outgrow them, but I am able to pass them down to my sister's children who get a lot of use out of them, as well.
(L.L. Bean catalog, Fall 1995, children's section, 4.)

The California oaks are so insignificant economically---good only for firewood (but very, very good for that, giving a hot, long-lasting blue flame)---that only recently have scientists been able to secure serious funding from the federal government in order to study the species.
(Charles Little. 1995. The dying of the trees. New York: Viking. 199.)

Some cats are so dull-witted from birth that never in their lives do they learn that a door which is ajar can be nudged farther open.
(Muriel Beadle. 1977. The cat. New York: Simon and Shuster. 185.)

I may have conveyed the impression that in no department of life could either claim a definite advantage over the other.
(P.G. Wodehouse. 1960. The most of P.G. Wodehouse. Simon and Schuster. 401.)

German

Das Wandern ist des Müllers Lust.
Das muss ein schlechter Müller sein,
dem niemals fiel das Wandern ein.
(Das Wandern ist des Müllers Lust, German folksong.)