LINGUIST List 2.522

Mon 16 Sep 1991

Disc: Thats

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. David Powers, Re: That's
  2. Hartmut Haberland, Re: 2.517 That's
  3. Herb Stahlke, That's
  4. Howard Geyer, that's
  5. , that's

Message 1: Re: That's

Date: Mon, 16 Sep 91 12:04:29 MET DST
From: David Powers <>
Subject: Re: That's
I don't find natural ANY of the suggested ways of referring to what I would
describe as "the book with the red cover".
** The book that's cover is red ...
* The book whose cover is red ...
** The book of which the cover is red ...
Avoiding a subsidiary clause with copula, I can consider the
question of "that's" better in a context suggested by another
** The book that's cover I tore ...
The book whose cover I tore ...
** The book of which I tore the cover ...
But I might actually say, "The book I tore the cover of ..."
or even "The book that I tore the cover of ...", but not
** The book which I tore the cover of ..."
Anyway, the point re unacceptability of "that's" vs "whose"
is valid for my (educated-Australian) dialect, but still not that
David Powers
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Message 2: Re: 2.517 That's

Date: Mon, 16 Sep 91 13:38:32 MET DST
From: Hartmut Haberland <>
Subject: Re: 2.517 That's
As to that's as a RP, here's some evidence from Danish:
A couple of years ago, I was flabbergasted/astounded or whatever the
word is when I heard somebody saying something like,
- Lene? Det er hende Niels bor sammen meds datter.
(Or: ... med's ... - you would never see it in writing anyway.)
Literally: 'Lene? That's her Niels lives together with's daughter!',
i.e. [Who] Lene [is]? That's the daughter of the girl Niels lives together
I have encountered more cases of the same kind, although they (still?) are
Since there is no RP in this RC, the geneitive marker cannot attach itself
to anybthing but the RC istself, i.e.e its last word (which happens to be
a stranded prepostion.)
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Message 3: That's

Date: Mon, 16 Sep 1991 10:56 EST
From: Herb Stahlke <00HFSTAHLKEBSUVAX1.bitnet>
Subject: That's
 On the use of "that's," I did a paper in _Language 52_.3 (1976), a
little too cutely titled "Which that," in which I promoted the old argument
that "that" is a complementizer and not a pronoun. Looking back on it, I'd
have to say that my work was an extended footnote to such earlier work as
Bolinger's excellent _That's that_ (1972) and Jespersen's historical grammar.
However, I mentioned in a footnote that Ed Keenan had told me about the use of
"that's" as a possessive relative in some British dialects. I tested sentences
of this sort on a group of 35 American graduate students--not exactly a
representative sample--and found that about 20 percent of them accepted
sentences where the possessed noun was subject of the relative clause, as in
"The dog that's leg is broken...," but that none of them accepted sentences in
which the possessed noun was not subject, as, "*The dog that's leg the vet
 I think there is much less stability in the use of "that" and "wh-"
relatives than most published studies would suggest. That "that" would be used
pronominally in relatives is not surprising, given its history. Question words
began to be used as relative pronouns only in early Middle English, and then
only gradually and almost exclusively in construction with determiners. Since
this development appears to have been a gradual influence from Latin and French
and effected only educated speakers, its use never stabilized in non-standard,
or even informal standard English. One hears constructions like "We were
going to go on a picnic today which it rained" in places like northwest Ohio
(where my wife grew up). I've heard enough variety in the use of wh- words in
the region between Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Toledo that I question whether
the systematic use of wh-relatives has ever stabilized outside of educated
English, how much of the non-standard use falls under hypercorrection or
non-standard grammatical patterns, and whether the use of wh-relatives in
standard English is not itself register-dependent.
 It's clear that relative marking shows a high degree of variation, but
I haven't seen a lot research on these questions.
Herb Stahlke
Ball State University
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Message 4: that's

Date: Mon, 16 Sep 91 11:02:16 EDT
From: Howard Geyer <>
Subject: that's
	Having been following the *that's* discussion with interest, I was
jubilant yesterday when I heard someone say
		The cat which's name was "Indiga" . . .
	When I excitedly asked the speaker if I had heard correctly, she
replied that I had, but that it was a performance error; she would not have
written it, and admitted that it sounded wrong.
	Nevertheless, it is interesting that she substituted the relative
pronoun *which* and possessivized it, along the lines of *that's*.
Howard Geyer	(
Department of Psychology
University of Pennsylvania
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Message 5: that's

Date: Mon, 16 Sep 91 16:56:01 MET DST
From: <>
Subject: that's
As a native speaker of Scottish English, I can confirm that *the book that's
 cover is red* is perfectly normal in Scottish English. So, to answer David
 Pesetzky's question, is *the book that's cover Mary tore*.
The whole question is discussed by Suzanne Romaine, 'The relative clause marker
 in Scots English: diffusion, complexity, and style as dimensions of syntactic
 change' in Language in Society 9 (1980), pp. 221-247. She points out that both
 *The house that its roof was damaged* and *The house that's roof was damaged*
 are "grammatical in modern Scots" (p. 227). Comparing the WH and TH
 relativization strategies, as she calls them, she concludes that "the WH
 strategy never really entered the Scots system ... to any great extent" (p.
Interesting that this Scottish feature should turn up in America.
Lachlan Mackenzie, Free University, Amsterdam
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