Learn English – I’m not sure how to mark the clause boundaries

grammarlinguistics

I'm trying to mark clause boundaries (main, subordinate & embedded clause); I can't play my own devil's advocate anymore, would be so grateful if anyone could weigh in on this:

Sentence:

With more than 430,000 migrants having reached Europe by sea this
year, the countries of Europe resurrecting borders they'd once
removed, and thousands of people in Calais trying to reach Britain
illegally, some people have argued that we're on the verge of a 'great
age of migration', in which national governments are powerless to
resist huge numbers of people, travelling the world in search of a
better life.

Analysis:

  • Clause 1 (objects of the preposition 'with' ?):

    With (more than 430,000 migrants having reached Europe by sea this
    year), (the countries of Europe resurrecting borders [[(that) they'd
    once removed]]), and (thousands of people in Calais trying to reach
    Britain illegally), some people have argued…

  • Clause 2 (dependent clause because of verbal process 'argued'):

    (everything after 'in which' modifies 'great age') that we're on the
    verge of a 'great age of migration', [[in which national governments
    are powerless to resist huge numbers of people, [[travelling the world
    in search of a better life]].

    OR

    Going by the idea that every clause has a verbal group, which means I would split up Clause 1 as well.

  • Clause 3:

    in which national governments are powerless

  • Clause 4:

    to resist huge numbers of people, [[(who are) travelling the world in search of a better life]].

Best Answer

It might be helpful to split it into two sections; the initial large preposition phrase containing several sub clauses and functioning as an omissible adjunct, and the subsequent main clause with its own numerous SCs:

PP Adjunct

With [more than 430,000 migrants having reached Europe by sea this year], [the countries of Europe resurrecting borders [they'd once removed], and [thousands of people in Calais trying [to reach Britain illegally]].

The PP is headed by the prep with, which has as its complement 3 coordinated sub clauses, 2 of which contain further sub clauses:

1) more than 430,000 migrants having reached Europe by sea this year.

2) the countries of Europe resurrecting borders [they’d once removed], containing the relative clause they'd once removed which modifies the NP borders.

3) thousands of people in Calais trying [to reach Britain illegally] containing the clause to reach Britain illegally, which is catenative complement to trying.

Main Clause

[Some people have argued [that we're on the verge of a 'great age of migration' [in which national governments are powerless [to resist huge numbers of people, [travelling the world in search of a better life]]]]].

The MC contains 4 sub clauses:

1) the large that-content clause as complement to have argued, and containing:

2) the relative in which clause modifying the NP great age of migration, which in turn contains:

3) the infinitival to resist clause as complement to powerless, which contains:

4) the participial travelling clause modifying the NP huge numbers of people.

(note: some grammars would analyse the having in having reached Europe as a catenative verb with reached Europe thus a sub clause as catenative complement. To keep it simple, I've treated having reached as a constituent, i.e. 'the verb'.