Does this argument make sense to anybody? How would you parse the first sentence?
Thanks, Vanya
This sentence is really elliptical:
"The wall was four feet high."
"High" is an adjective that relates to the subject "wall"; the noun "feet" (and its modifying adjective, "four") are the object of an implied preposition, such as "by" or "to"; as,
"The wall was high (by) four feet."
Makes perfect sense to me. If it makes you feel better, you can substitute an entire phrase, such as "by the height of" instead of "by"; as in,
"The wall was high (by the height of) four feet."
"High" still modifies "wall," and "four feet" is still in the objective case (here the object of "of" instead of "by").
In article
Does this argument make sense to anybody? How would you parse the first sentence? Thanks, Vanya This sentence is really elliptical: "The wall was four feet high."

That's perfectly acceptable and common usage; I'd probably say "The wall was four foot high".
"The wall was high (by) four feet." Makes perfect sense to me.

To a native English speaker, however, it sounds stilted and confusing. I'd have to think twice as to what it meant.
If it makes you feel better, you can substitute an entire phrase, such as "by the height of" instead of "by"; as in, "The wall was high (by the height of) four feet."

That's even worse. :-) If you /really/ wanted to rearrange the sentence, "The height of the wall was four feet" would be far more natural.

Adam

You know the sort of thing, they ask you if you've implemented shadow passwords but don't know their /dev/*** from their /etc/elbow. Chris King
Does this argument make sense to anybody? How would you parse the first sentence? Thanks, Vanya This sentence is really ... still modifies "wall," and "four feet" is still in the objective case (here the object of "of" instead of "by").

I'd say "the sentence makes sense: what else matters?". While /au fond/ I'm unsympathetic to this sort of anal-retentive analysis, if drawn into it, I'd be very tempted to parse "four feet high" as an adjectival phrase whose internal structure isn't worth dissecting.

Mike Stevens, narrowboat Felis Catus II
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Old grammarians never die, they simply parse away.
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On 6 Feb 2004 21:23:46 GMT, "Adam D. Barratt"

, "Vanya"

I think it is worse than confusing. To me, "The wall was high by four feet" suggests that the wall was four feet higher than it should be.
If it makes you feel better, you can substitute an ... "The wall was high (by the height of) four feet."

Same problem as before - see my comment above.
That's even worse. :-) If you /really/ wanted to rearrange the sentence, "The height of the wall was four feet" would be far more natural.

Natural and unambiguous.

Peter Duncanson
UK
(posting from u.c.l.e)
In article
Does this argument make sense to anybody? How would you parse the first sentence? Thanks, Vanya This sentence is really ... noun "feet" (and its modifying adjective, "four") are the object of an implied preposition, such as "by" or "to"; as,

I disagree. Yes, "high" is an adjective of "wall", but "four feet" is an adverbial phrase modifying "high", indicating the degree of height.
Cheers,
Tony

Tony Mountifield
...
Does this argument make sense to anybody? How would you ... objective case (here the object of "of" instead of "by").

I'd say "the sentence makes sense: what else matters?". While /au fond/ I'm unsympathetic to this sort of anal-retentive analysis, if drawn into it, I'd be very tempted to parse "four feet high" as an adjectival phrase whose internal structure isn't worth dissecting.

Thank you for your responses. That's what I thought, too.

Vanya
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That's even worse. :-) If you /really/ wanted to rearrange the sentence, "The height of the wall was four feet" would be far more natural.

Natural and unambiguous.

Sometimes, ambiguity is intentional. I was at a pub quiz last week, in which one of the questions was "What is ten feet high and eighteen inches in diameter?". All the teams had it in mind that they were trying to think of a columnar (or at least cylindrical) object. Recognizing that other questions in the round were all to do with sports (although it had not been announced as a "Sports Round") one member of our team suggested "a caber", but I ruled that out on the grounds that a caber was considerably slimmer (and probably taller: any Scots present with a definitive answer?:-).
It turned out that the correct answer, which no team got, was "A basketball hoop"!
Clever use of ambiguity.

Brian {Hamilton Kelly} (Email Removed) "We can no longer stand apart from Europe if we would. Yet we are untrained to mix with our neighbours, or even talk to them". George Macaulay Trevelyan, 1919