Date: Fri, 17 Nov 1995 08:39:52 -0500

From: "Dennis R. Preston" preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU

Subject: Re: Don Nelson puts behind

It sounds odd to me, and my first thought was, quite simply, that I had to

move 'behind' behind: 'to put this sordid ... career behind.' Then I

noticed that the ellipsis of the locative (usually obligatory in English

with 'put,' e.g., '*I put the groceries,' although happy in most other

languages) is clearly involved.

I think there is an odd distribution which has in part to do with the

weight on the right. Look at the following:

1) Nelson put this chapter behind him.

2) ?Nelson put this chapter behind 0.

3) ??Nelson put behind him this chapter.

4) *Nelson put behind 0 this chapter.

Even in a truncated sentence, then, when the material to the right is not

heavy, the 'put' with locative elided is still worst, but all the

dispreferred above are better if the material to the right is 'heavy,' as

in the original example.

How about the other funny business in this sentence? Since the 'him' (in 1

above, a completely grammatical sentence) is a clause-mate to 'Nelson,' why

isn't it reflexive? *Nelson put this chapter behind himself. Could this odd

fact have anything to do with the fact that the locative is predicted by

'put' but here has an obligatory temporal metaphoric reading?

Dennis Preston


Does this sound odd to anyone else?

Thursday, NY Times, B8

This is called closure in sports, and Nelson seemed as ready

as anyone to put behind this sordid chapter in his otherwise

sparkling career.

Beth Simon