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To describe the ordinariness of a certain 25-year-old man, someone said:

He's the kind of guy that you could walk into a bar in any part of the country and see.

"A guy that you can see" makes sense; "A guy that you can walk" does not, unless the word walk is used in the sense of walking the dog rather than in the sense of walking into a bar. I.e. that verb is intransitive.

Therefore my tentative idea was that "walk into a bar and see" is being used here in effect as a compound transitive verb. But on the other hand, if you say "I walked into the bar and saw him.", I would say simply that walked is an intransitive verb and the pronoun him is the object of the transitive verb saw.

So how would syntacticians analyze the quoted sentence?

  • "That you could [walk into a bar in any part of the country] and [see ___]" is a relative clause where the antecedent of gap is "kind of guy". It consists of a coordination of the two bracketed VPs as complement to "could". We understand that you could walk into a bar in any part of the country and see the kind of guy. – BillJ Jul 21 '17 at 11:26
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He's the kind of guy SUCH that you could walk into a bar in any part of the country and see (him). I see this as merely the omission of "such" or "of the type that" or even "whereby", and not part of the verb at all. It's modifying the word "guy."

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Two VPs have been coordinated, "[walk into a bar] and [see whom]', and a relative pronoun has been extracted from the second conjunct. This is an exception to Ross's Coordinate Structure Constraint of the sort Ross mentions here.

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Sentences can be conjoined (“I bought a car and Sally sold a goat”), and so can VPs, thus you can say

I walked into the bar and saw him
I could walk into the bar and see him
I picked up the phone and dialed him
I built a house and sold it
I protested and sold the house

What you have is basically a relative clause, analogous to “The man who I walked into the bar and saw t”, where “the man” is the object of the second conjunct (not the first). The problem is that this violates Ross’s Coordinate Structure Constraint, which explains why you can’t say *“This is the girl who Bob knows the girl and t”, or *“Which girl does Bob know t and hate the boy”.

Papers by Lakoff (1986) and Goldsmith (1985) have observed examples that contradict this principle:

How much can you drink __ and still stay sober (Goldsmith)
That’s the stuff that the guys in the Caucasus drink __ and live to be a
hundred (Lakoff)

One analysis of these problems is that these are “consecutive” constructions, which mean “and then”, not just “and”. This is certainly the case for the “walk into the bar and see” construction. So, there is an excuse for having the head noun “guy” linked to only one lower clause (“guy you can walk into a bar and see __”).

  • Ross himself notes that Relative Clause Formation is one of the rules that may apply 'across the board' and, therefore, is not subject to the CSC ('Infinite Syntax', p. 109). On the contrary, the idea that 'consecutive and' is not 'and' leads nowhere, in my view: if cases in which 'and' means more than '&' - say 'and then' - were to be exceptions to the CSC, e.g. topicalizations like '*The car, I drove home and left t in the garage', '*The garage, I drove home and left the car in t ' should be OK. Are they? Also, what blocks '*This is the x (that) Bob knows the girl and t' is not CSC but A/A. – Sibutlasi Jul 24 '17 at 9:56

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