Asyndetic Coordinate Phrases

Asyndetic coordinate phrases consist of two or more syntactically equivalent units.

The units so joined may be any of the parts of speech, function words, or more complex structures taking part in grammatical organisation.

The joining may be accomplished by word order and prosody alone, indicated in writing by a comma or dash.

Among asyndetic coordinate phrases we often find structures with more than two constituents. Examples are:

And Soames was alone again. The spidery, dirty, ridiculous business! (Galsworthy)

She was unknown in Paris, and he but little known, so that discretion seemed unnecessary in those walks, talks, visits to concerts, picture-

250galleries, theatres, little dinners, expeditions to Versailles, St. Cloud, even Fountainebleau. (Ibid.)

They were peevish, crusty, silent, eyeing nothing in particular and moving their feet (Dreiser)

Instances are not few when the joining of the units in a phrase is accomplished by both syndeton and asyndeton.

Gazing at him, so old, thin, white, and spotless, Annette murmured something in French which James did not understand (Galsworthy)

She also noticed that he was smooth-shaven, good-looking and young, but nothing more. (Dreiser)

His master, big, surly and forbidding and with a powerful moustache, glared mercilessly.


The combination of her treachery, defiance, and impudence was too much for him. (Ibid.)

Closely related to coordinate phrases are the so-called appositives. In most cases appositive phrases are made up of two elements which may be: nouns, noun-pronouns and substantivised groups.

Terminal juncture in such phrases is optional. If there is a juncture it is indicated in writing by a comma or a dash. Examples are:

Ncom Ncom — the bird heron

the mammal whale

Ncom Nprop — Professor Вrown

The river Thames

Nprop N — Bradley, the lexicographer N NP — Soames, the man of property The Republic of France

The of-phrase is added to a noun, not to define its meaning more accurately, but to indicate a class to which a thing or person that has just been characterised as an individual by the governing noun belongs. This pattern is not known in Old English. It has come into the language from Latin through French.

In Modern English all feeling for its origin has been lost for the common class noun after of can now be replaced by a proper name.

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