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#1 Ed Cross

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 01:36 PM

I know that this doesn't specifically have to do with Accordance, I hope you don't mind, but I must beg your help one more time as I am not surrounded by the scholarly type. I am hoping some of you might be able to assist. I have an English grammatical question for those who are English scholars. Please read the following short story, the question follows:

On Friday, Bobby and some of the neighborhood boys played baseball against a team from a different neighborhood. Bobby’s best friend was Karen and she really liked playing ball with the boys. And after a long and hard day playing ball Bobby fell asleep.
Very early Monday morning Karen came to Bobby’s house to get Bobby up to walk to school. Karen crawled through Bobby’s window as she had often done before and found Bobby’s bed empty. Bobby’s mother heard her and came into the room. Karen was startled and Bobby’s mother said to Karen, “You’re looking for Bobby: he is risen from sleep and already gone to school. When you see his friends tell them he’ll see them later.” So, Karen headed off to school.
Now when Bobby was risen early Monday, he spoke first with Karen, his best friend. And she told the other neighborhood boys that they’d play ball again after school. But they wouldn’t believe her until they heard it from Bobby himself.

My grammatical question regards the first sentence in the last paragraph. The way that this is structured does the “was risen early Monday” indicate when Bobby arose or when he spoke first to Karen, please explain?

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#2 Robb Brunansky

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 02:29 PM

I'm not an English scholar, but I'll hazard a response. I would say that the English grammar is ambiguous at best. It is awkward to say in English, "Now when Bobby was risen early Monday morning, &c." A better way of phrasing it would be, "Now having risen early Monday morning, Bobby first spoke with Karen," which would indicate that Karen was the first person Bobby spoke with, but not necessarily that he spoke with her early in the morning. Another option might include, "Now after he had risen, Bobby first spoke with Karen early Monday morning." There is still some ambiguity in that statement, but it indicates clearly that Bobby first spoke with Karen early on Monday (although he might have spoken with someone prior to Karen).

At any rate, I think you can see that the way the sentence is worded is unfortunately rather awkward and imprecise in English and would probably require more data to determine the exact nuance.
Soli Deo Gloria,
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#3 Ed Cross

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 04:40 PM

I appreciate your response, Robb, but I'm kind of stuck with the way it is.

Doesn't the placement of the comma separate the adverbial phrase "early Monday" from "he spoke first with Karen" thus making it have apply to the preceding "was risen"?

Any scholars out there?

#4 Robb Brunansky

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 05:03 PM

I know you're stuck with it the way it is :)

You are correct that the comma puts the "early Monday" with the dependent clause rather than the following independent clause. The ambiguity I was pointing out was due to the word 'when,' which could indicate contemporaneous time with the rising or subsequent time (better expressed by 'after,' but possibly expressed by 'when').

At any rate, the phrase "early Monday" is part of the dependent clause, as the comma makes plain. Now the issue is the relationship of the dependent and independent clauses.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Robb Brunansky

#5 jarcher

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 08:17 PM

I wonder if our uncomfortableness with this sentence is compounded by the fact that the first clause is in the passive voice while the independent clause is in the active voice. Would there be less confusion if it was written, "When Bobby woke up early Monday, he spoke first with Karen, his best friend"?

I'm not sure what other interpretive options there are than to understand that Bobby spoke with Karen early Monday morning after he woke up.

See the attached file for how I'd diagram this.

This makes the clause "When Bobby was risen early Monday" an temporal adverbial modifier modyfing the independent clause "he spoke first with Karen."

Attached Files



#6 countach

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Posted 13 March 2008 - 06:23 PM

It seems to me that the risen early Monday relates to when Bobby rose, BUT because it says that when that happened he talked to Karen, that the implication is both events happened around the same time.




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