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Using two somewhat different uses of the te form as examples.

彼女はいつになくはしゃいでよくしゃべった

Does the adverb "unusually" describe both "being in high spirits" and "being talkative"?

船はすこしの絶間{たえま}なく黒い煙{けぶり}を吐いて浪{なみ}を切って進んで行く。

Does the "without pause" adverb describe the way the ship belched black smoke, its movement, the whole "movement while splitting waves and belching black smoke"?

  • 2
    It's ambiguous. – user4092 Apr 20 '15 at 7:46
  • I agree with @user4092. The two sentences are too ambiguous in the usage of adverbs. – eltonjohn Jun 20 '15 at 6:42
  • My guesses: In the first case I'm pretty sure it applies to both. In the second, it seems strange to say the smoke was constantly flowing or the waves were constantly being cut, but more natural to say the ship proceeded without pause. If there was some context related to the smoke (like the engine was repaired) or the waves (they were in a storm), then my interpretation might differ. – Locksleyu Feb 3 '16 at 14:06
1

It is ambiguous.

However, in the first sentence you can imagine that SHE was very high and talked a lot. It is ambiguous to know without context but I can see here laughing and talking more compare to usual day.

For the second sentence, you know SHIP does go without pause; it doesn't stop and go. So, it is the black smoke the adverb is describing. I doesn't matter if the adverb also describe the ship itself. It does move without pause regardless.

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Given the both quoted lines, I think it’s difficult to declare whether “いつになく” refers to both “はしゃぐ” and “喋る,” or either of them, and “絶え間なく” refers to both “煙を吐く” and “進む,” or either of them. But logically speaking, I think it’s more appropriate to interpret “she was very talkative because she was unusually in high spirit at that time,” and “the ship makes its way, belching black smoke incessantly.”

Well, she can be unusually in high spirit and unusually talkative, but isn’t it funny to say a ship that should make its way, unless lying at anchor, advances “without pause.”

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