More books with non-constituent titles
The new non-constituent book titles I have gathered since my
are listed below, with acknowledgments to the people who sent them.
I am grateful to them all.
I removed from the list below a suggestion that
Faith Jones made, about Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson.
It might perhaps be parsed as two separate
adjuncts, an intransitive preposition and a subjectless gerund-participial clause;
but William Ockham pointed out to me that a question like "Where's Jenny?"
could be answered by "Out dancing." Mostly, normal well-formed answers to
questions are syntactic constituents. So I decided that Out Stealing Horses is not a clear case. I also removed, after a rethink, a science
fiction book called The Stars My Destination
(Topher Cooper found textual evidence that it is a gapped clause,
the same kind of
constituent as "The stars are my destination").
For a list (still being updated) of the ones
I currently think are clear cases, read on.
Corinne Goss notes Every Book Its Reader by Nicholas Basbanes,
a title which is also the terse and cryptic wording of one of
laws of library science); I take it to be alluding to
phrases like "we must find/give/assign every
book its reader", where we have an indirect object followed
by a direct object (not a constituent except perhaps for Kayne).
Gabriel J. Michael notes the title of Philip K. Dick's novel (source of
a recent movie and graphic novel)
A Scanner Darkly (which is definitely not
a constituent for anybody: it is a noun phrase followed by an adverb
functioning as a manner adjunct; Gabriel notes
that it is a reference to 1 Corinthians 13, verse 12: "For now we
see through a glass, darkly").
Simon Cauchi reminds me of Alan Duff's novel about violence among the
Maori, Once Were Warriors (obviously suggested by sentences like
"We Maori once were warriors").
Levana Taylor notes a novel by Ford Maddox Ford entitled
Ladies Whose Bright Eyes (noun followed by just the
wh-phrase of a relative clause modifying it).
Bob Ladd reports on a faux Kerouac-style novel by Peter S. Beagle called
I See By My Outfit, which appears to be a clause minus an
obligatory subconstituent (in the idiom ‘see by [NP] that
[Clause]’ the complement clause seems obligatory). Joseph Ruby
points out that the allusion is to a Smothers Brothers rewording of
"The Streets of Laredo" which goes "I see by your outfit that you are
a cowboy / I see by my outfit that I am one too".
Peter Hendriks tells me that there is a 1909 Japanese
novel by Natsume Soseki, Sore Kara in Japanese, translated
into English as And Then. The story is that when
Soseki was asked what he was going to call the novel he was working on,
he just opened it and picked a couple of words at random.
(Another case of a rather studied and deliberate choice of a non-constituent
sequence: coordinator + adverb.)
- Mary Kuhner submitted
Michael Bishop's And Strange At Ecbatan The Trees, noting
that it is from a piece of poetry: "And strange at Ecbatan the trees /
Take leaf by leaf the evening strange / The flooding dark
about their knees / The mountains over Persia change".
- Mary Kuhner also found Michael Shea's fantasy
In Yana, the Touch of Undying, which is from a part of
the book's text: "In Yana, the touch of undying is given to
all who ask for it" (this is the prophecy that gets the plot
rolling). Double kudos to Mary.
- Richard Sabey points to
David Bailey's If We Shadows (three words
snatched from a line in the last speech of Shakespeare's
A Midsummer Night's Dream).
- John Baker proposes a particularly clear case:
Property Of, by Alice Hoffman.
Still well under twenty case so far in all,
adding in my previously collected cases
If On a Winter's Night a Traveller (if + temporal modifier + subject),
The Fire Next Time (NP + NP, though this is
questionable, since it could be construed as a reduced
clause — the meaning is "It'll be the fire next
Sometimes a Great Notion (temporal modifier + subject),
Dancer from the Dance (NP + PP),
and for good measure the play title
Suddenly Last Summer (Adv + temporal modifier NP).
This is out of hundreds of thousands
(probably millions) of books published. As a percentage: roughly zero.
Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at January 21, 2008 01:28 PM