LINGUIST List 2.517

Sat 14 Sep 1991

Disc: That's

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Natalie Maynor, Re: 2.508 That's
  2. , Re: 2.516 That's
  3. "Michael Kac", Re: 2.516 That's

Message 1: Re: 2.508 That's

Date: Sat, 14 Sep 91 18:33:10 CDT
From: Natalie Maynor <nm1Ra.MsState.Edu>
Subject: Re: 2.508 That's
>Ask your student if (s)he comes from the ''MidSouth'' (the region of North Amer
As a MidSoutherner, I've been sitting here trying to decide whether I've
ever heard a construction like "the book that's cover is red." I know I've
never seen it written. The question of whether it should or should not have
an apostrophe is interesting. I still can't decide whether I've heard it.
That means that (1) I probably have heard it -- otherwise, it would strike
me as an impossible construction right away, (2) it is probably not very
common around here -- otherwise, I wouldn't be sitting here wondering about
it. I know I don't use the contruction myself. And I do speak "Mid-Southern"
as defined in relation to Memphis. (There are some problems with that label,
however. Memphis is part of the old Southern Coastal dialect region as it
came up the Mississippi River. Not very many miles east of Memphis the
dialect shifts to Southern Midland/ Southern Mountain.)
>Also, on a semi-related subject (well, related only because I brought it up),
>has anyone run across any reports from research on media-induced dialect shift?
Although I can't cite specific references, I know I've read reports claiming
that the media do not affect phonology. Obviously, they affect lexicon to
some extent. I think Raven McDavid was one who did some research on this
topic. (I might be able to find some specific references when I'm in my
office.) Phonological change is usually a result of interaction rather
than of passive listening. If I start talking back to my tv set, my
phonology might be affected. If I don't talk back, it probably won't be.
 --Natalie (
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Message 2: Re: 2.516 That's

Date: Sat, 14 Sep 91 15:45:44 PDT
From: <>
Subject: Re: 2.516 That's
If THAT in "The book that's cover is red" is indeed a relative,
it has a ready parallel in other languages, e.g.:
Portuguese (Brazil) O livro que a capa dele 'the book that the cover of-it'
instead of O livro cuja capa 'the book whose cover' (cuja 'whose' agrees
in gender and number with capa 'cover'. Cujo 'whose' is very rare in
spontaneous speech.
Cujo is also avoided with animate nouns: A garota que o pai dela e' medico
'the girl that the father of-her is [a] doctor' instead of
A garota cujo pai...
'the girl whose father...'
Catalan has no whose equivalent, and resorts to an awkward
construction in the standard language:
La noia el pare de la qual es metge
'the girl the father of the-which is [a] doctor'
but in ordinary speech one hears things like
La noia que el seu pare es metge
'the girl that her* father is [a] doctor
*el seu = 'her' (Catalan possessive adjectives (seu) are preceded by
the definite article (el).
I have heard similar constructions in Spanish (Sp cujo 'whose' is
receding in ordinary speech): El coche que su duen~o lo habia dejado en
la calle 'the car that his owner it had left on the street'
and in Italian: Il ragazzo che suo padre... 'the boy that his father'...
Milton Azevedo
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Message 3: Re: 2.516 That's

Date: Sat, 14 Sep 91 21:39:00 -0500
From: "Michael Kac" <>
Subject: Re: 2.516 That's
Aaron Broadwell concludes his recent posting with a rather nice quote from
Baudelaire. Its relevance to the topic under discussion (*that's* vs. *whose*)
isn't clear but I can offer a corollary to the quote even so.
It is reported that when the composer Maurice Ravel was offered, and refused,
the Legion of Honor, his refusal did not impress Erik Satie who said 'It is
not enough to refuse the Legion of Honor. One must have done nothing to de-
serve the Legion of Honor.'
Michael Kac
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