Sunday, June 08, 2008

Grammatical judgment poll results

Well, the grammaticality judgment poll closed mere minutes ago. (All the comments happened to end up on a short follow-up post, here.) Here are the results:
“He’s seen as a true conservative, which McCain is seen as less than.” That sentence …
  • sounds utterly fine 21 (29%)
  • sounds fine with 'being ' added ('as being less than') 7 (9%)
  • needs more help than that but isn't too bad 36 (50%)
  • cannot be made into English 8 (11%)
Of course, we like the visuals here on Team Verb, so here's another view:

I posted the query with a poll for a simple reason: I thought it was probably idiosyncratic or maybe a performance error, not something that would sound right to lots of people. I expected almost all responses to be negative.

Well, I was wrong. I'm in the "it just ain't English" camp. But the Ridger's suggestion (in earlier comments) that a listener could reasonably supply the info is fair enough, and there's a kind of Strunk & White motivation for doing it for some. But it sounds really bad to me.

Oh yeah, I hope that Laura, of A Walk in the Words, will now reveal her vote and comment on it, at her blog or here.


Sky Onosson said...

I was with the "it's fine" camp.

I would look on this as some kind of construction: "which [noun] is [verb-en/ed] as [comparative]". It may be historically derived from some other form where the "being" would be grammatically necessary, but doesn't seem to function that way anymore, for a lot of speakers.

OK, someone shoot this hypothesis down!

Jon Boy said...

The problem for me is not that it's missing a "being" or some other word, but that it's a really weird extraction. Unfortunately, grammar class was a long time ago, and I've forgotten all my terminology.