It's been a couple years since I've taken a syntax class, and I've forgotten - what tests can you use to check whether a speaker uses a word as a conjunction? I seem to remember something about testing where the speaker can attach different clauses in the sentence, but I don't remember the details. I'd appreciate any explanations, or links to published papers discussing this topic!

  • If the answer below brings the information you need, you should consider clicking on the "tick" of the answer so as to check the answer as the "accepted answer". – Stephane Rolland Jan 2 '20 at 18:22

In The Syntactic Phenomena of English, McCawley uses Ross's CSC (Coordinate Structure Constraint) and RNR as diagnostics for coordinate conjunctions. See, e.g., p. 616, where M. investigates contrastive negative but.

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    This resembles a Link-Only-Answer... Could you explain or sum up about it a bit? – Stephane Rolland May 5 '19 at 8:44
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    @StephaneRolland, The CSC requires that all conjuncts of a coordinate structure be affected equally by any rule that affects one of them. So, if you find that the parts of a structure are affected equally, by an extraction for example, this identifies it as a coordinate structure. McCawley has a whole chapter of his book on coordination, and I cannot do it justice here. Some of the book is online, and I urge you to go there and take a look. Here is another web reference: books.google.com/… – Greg Lee May 5 '19 at 12:35
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    @StephaneRolland, My characterization of rules which must conform to the CSC should have mentioned that rules constrained by the CSC must have a conditioning factor outside of the putative coordinate structure. – Greg Lee Jan 1 '20 at 1:56
  • thanks for your additional information. I have some difficulties understanding your second comment. What is the most important ? First, that there is at least one conditionning statement, or second, that this statement is outside the structure ? – Stephane Rolland Jan 2 '20 at 18:12
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    @StephaneRolland, They are both necessary conditions. – Greg Lee Jan 2 '20 at 18:22

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