LINGUIST List 2.346

Thursday, 18 July 1991

Disc: Impersonal Verbs

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  1. Ellen Prince, Re: Impersonal Verbs
  2. , Impersonal Verbs

Message 1: Re: Impersonal Verbs

Date: Wed, 10 Jul 91 14:52:17 -0400
From: Ellen Prince <>
Subject: Re: Impersonal Verbs
re the weather verbs in german, yiddish has only es 'it' in weather expressions
and as the general initial position place-holder when there's no subject or
the subject has been postposed with nothing topicalized, e.g.:
es geyt a regn/shney 'it goes a rain/snow = it's raining/snowing'
es iz mir kalt/umetik 'it is me cold/lonesome = i'm cold/lonesome'
es dakht zikh mir az er iz alt 'it seems self me that he is old = it seems
	to me that he's old'
es iz geshtorbn der kabstn 'it is died the pauper = the pauper died'
however, there is also a construction with the demonstrative neuter 'dos =
this/that' as expletive and with the subject in middle field, but with a very
different understanding:
dos iz der kabstn geshtorbn 'this is the pauper died =it's the pauper who died'
that is, dos-sentences have the understanding (but not the syntax) of english
it-clefts. (slavic also uses a demonstrative-initial simplex clause for the
understanding of it-clefts.)
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Message 2: Impersonal Verbs

Date: 12 Jul 91 11:26 EST
From: <>
Subject: Impersonal Verbs
The comments about the Icelandic impersonal use of "he" with weather
verbs remind me that some colloquial varieties of American English can
use "she" (never "he", it seems) as subject of some weather verbs. I
have the impression that this works only with verbs describing some
active, visible weather phenomenon. Thus "She's raining (snowing,
blowing) hard out there", but not *"She's freezing cold out there".
Does anyone have more accurate information about this?
Paul Chapin
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