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I am trying to get to the bottom of Thai constructions which I can only gloss along the lines of:

(1) Because of the fact that her friends helped her escape prevented the soldiers from catching her;

(2) Because she was angry, she therefore refused to return it to him (where therefore just refers back to the fact that she was angry).

One explanation that occurs to me is that the words glossed as because and therefore do not express a relationship between clauses (and therefore are not conjunctions). Instead, they express the roles involved in a causative relationship, or in other words flag their respective clauses as causes or consequences. This makes it easy to infer the relationship without actually encoding it, which means that while you can just flag the cause and leave it to whoever you are speaking to to link it to the consequence via a process of causation, it is also open to you - while still flagging the cause - to use a causative construction to express the process itself (as in 1) or to flag the consequence separately (as in 2). Logically you may also be able to flag the cause, use a causative construction and flag the consequence, but I haven’t yet found out whether that’s the case.

If that’s the right analysis, I don’t know what to call the words glossed as because and therefore. Would they be prepositions? If so, are there any other instances of the object of a preposition doing double duty as the subject of a verb, which seems to be what is happening in (1)?


Since this has been bumped I'd like to update the Q:

On the back of BillJ's comment I discovered CEGL and the arguments that H&P make for regarding words like because as prepositions. As interesting as that is, it doesn't solve the basic problem in (1), which is that the verb prevented needs to take the complement of because as its subject if the sentence is going to make sense, and EN does not permit that - in EN the subject can only be the whole PP... so the real question is, what linguistic mechanisms could enable the verb to take just the complement of the preposition as its subject?

The recovery of the subject from within a dependent clause looks to me a bit like raising, and there is another similarity in that the connection between the derived subject and the verb seems less direct than in the expanded version, as can be seen by comparing:

Because of the fact that her friends helped her, that prevented the soliders from catching her

Because of the fact that her friends helped her, the soliders were prevented from catching her

For me the first of these is marginal but the second is OK - the difference seems to be that in the second version, the direct relationship between the (understood) subject and verb is broken. That seems to parallel the fact that in a raised object construction, the direct relationship between verb and object is broken.

As for (2), therefore is a connective adverb and it just seems to be one of its peculiarities that it cannot take a subordinated element as antecedent - compare nevertheless in, although he was tired, he nevertheless went on working, where the antecedent is just he was tired.

  • "Because" is a preposition, but "therefore" is an adverb used as a 'connective'. – BillJ Feb 23 at 8:43
  • Is this เพราะว่า (phro-wa) and เพราะฉะนั้น (phro-cha-nan)? – Michaelyus Mar 25 at 10:17
  • @Michaelyus the original was ด้วยความที่พวกม้าช่วยแก้วเอาไว้ ทำให้นายทหารไม่สามารถเอาว่าวคืนมาได้ (from the folk tale แก้วหน้าม้า). I was baffled by this construction and investigated it with a teacher (although she really teaches conversation - she's not a grammar nerd). For her it was perfectly natural to substitute เพราะ or เพราะว่า for the bit I've translated as because. The word I used to test whether you could put in therefore was จึง. – user23078 Mar 25 at 11:29
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There is a special name for this kind of part of speech, they are called Conjunctional Adverbs or Conjunctive Adverbs¹. In a broader classification of part of speech, they are subsumed under Adverbs (see, e.g., this list of symbols from Apertium).

¹I deliberately linked the German Wikipedia here, because their account is superior the English one.

  • thanks - so therefore and nevertheless would both be categorised as conjunctive adverbs - but in that case, why is because he was tired, he therefore left early ungrammatical, when although he was tired, he nevertheless went on working is OK? – user23078 Apr 24 at 10:55
  • I don't know, and I even do not feel the ungrammaticality of the first sentence (but I am not a native speaker of English). – jknappen - Reinstate Monica Apr 24 at 12:10
  • Well it's always possible it's just me... – user23078 Apr 24 at 12:12
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I'm not a native speaker of English, but I have the feeling that your sentence (1) "Because of the fact that her friends helped her escape prevented the soldiers from catching her" makes sense only if it is segmented (1a) "Because of the fact that her friends helped, [comma here] her escape [subject] prevented the soldiers from catching her. Otherwise, this sentence sounds agrammatical and ill-construed. So basically, you could just as well say (1a) Because her friends helped, her escape prevented the soldiers from catching her. So both sentences are parallel. Because of the fact that is a heavy substitute of because. Another solution would be to erase because of (1b) The fact that her friends helped her escape prevented the soldiers from catching her, where the whole clause The fact that her friends helped her escape is the subject of prevented.

  • Thanks - yes, you can fix the grammar in the EN sentence with a comma as you suggest, but in doing so you change the meaning. The original meaning is just because her friends helped her escape, the soldiers were unable to catch her. In EN you can just as well say her friends helped her escape, preventing the soliders from catching her, but you can't combine because with a causative verb like prevent... but in Thai you can, and that's the difference I am trying to understand. – user23078 Feb 24 at 4:11
  • It's the same in FR, I think - grâce à l'aide de ses amis, les soldats n'ont pas pu la rattraper seems OK, and I think l'aide de ses amis a empêché les soldats de la rattraper is grammatical, though if my FR instincts are right it sounds funny. On the other hand grâce à l'aide de ses amis a empêché les soldats de la rattraper is nonsense. – user23078 Feb 24 at 4:18
  • If you imagine that in Thai because just puts a label over a clause, it makes sense, as though you wrote the fact that her friends helped her escape prevented the soliders from catching her, then highlighted the fact that her friends helped her escape and labelled it cause. You could do the same with the consequence, which seems to explain TH sentences like because I saw him sitting alone so I knew they had split up, which are impossible in EN. I am not sure about FR there. What about l'ayant vu assis tout seul, j'ai donc compris qu'ils se sont rompus? Similar meaning but OK? – user23078 Feb 24 at 4:29
  • You seem to be quite confused. English is not Thai. So what Thai allows to say has little relevance when it comes to what English allows or not. Your original sentence is clearly ill-construed in English if a comma is not added where I suggested. In all cases "because of the fact that [...]" cannot be the subject of "prevented" and I would add that this syntactical impossibility is probably true in all European languages. – Arnaud Fournet Feb 24 at 5:54
  • The question is, what kind of word must because be (in Thai) if it allows that construction. I don't think it can be a conjunction, but if not, what is it? The point of asking that question is that this difference may generalise way beyond constructions relating to cause and effect, and if so it would be helpful to know the right linguistic terminology so that I can explore how wide it really goes. It's always possible that the concepts like conjunction or adverb don't really apply to Thai, but I prefer to take it as a working assumption that they do, if only to explore the differences. – user23078 Feb 24 at 8:04

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