As far as I can see, the structure of supplementary constructions like

Karen, being ill, was unable to go


John – her father – was unable to walk her down the aisle

or maybe

a washer-dryer


a paperweight-cum-ashtray

(i.e. compound nouns where the meaning is built up more by addition than modification)

don’t fit very neatly into either dependency or phrase structure theories, because they are not made up of a head plus dependents.

Given that these constructions basically function as appendages, you might say it's appropriate for the framework that describes them to be a theoretical appendage. Still, I was wondering whether there are other theoretical approaches out there that give more attention to this kind of construction, or integrate it better.

Also, is it fair to say that the more pragmatic the language, the greater the use of supplementation?

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    "Being ill" is tightly integrated into the clause, and hence does not qualify as a supplement. "Her father" is a supplementary appositive. Compounds are single words and thus can't be supplements. – BillJ Mar 20 at 14:50
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    The easiest way to handle them is to treat them as intercalated utterances; certainly they have different pragmatics. – jlawler Mar 20 at 15:01
  • @BillJ yes compounds are single words, but these examples are built up from smaller elements using suppletive logic rather than head-and-dependents logic. It seems EN is comfortable with suppletive relationship at clause level, and sometimes at word level, but resistant to it within clauses - it requires any suppletive elements to be very clearly marked. – user23078 Mar 22 at 9:36
  • Against that background it's not surprising if linguistic theories are also oriented more towards head-and-dependents logic than suppletive logic - but this may just reflect an idiosyncrasy of EN, making this type of theory less than ideal for describing languages which are more flexible in terms of whether an element is parsed on a suppletive basis or on a head-and-dependents basis - and I was suggesting that this may be a feature of those languages that are often described as pragmatic. – user23078 Mar 22 at 9:36

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