LINGUIST List 2.544

Sat 21 Sep 1991

Disc: That's

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Directory

  1. Herb Stahlke, Re: 2.532 That's
  2. "R.Hudson", Thats
  3. , Re: Thats
  4. , re: 2.532 That's
  5. Joe Stemberger, Re: 2.516 That's
  6. "R.Hudson", thats

Message 1: Re: 2.532 That's

Date: Wed, 18 Sep 1991 10:21 EST
From: Herb Stahlke <00HFSTAHLKEBSUVAX1.bitnet>
Subject: Re: 2.532 That's
>On reading the recent list of possible ways to say "the book whose cover
>is red"/"the book the cover of which is red" etc., I was struck by the
>absence of the way I would always say it: "the book with the red cover".
>Me for avoidance every time. I should imagine that a study of this pheno-
>menon would have to take such cowardly detours into consideration.
>--Elise Morse-Gagne
>
Elise Morse-Gagne's comment on avoidance of constructions points to an
interesting problem that Jacqueline Schachter addressed in her 1976(?) article
"An Error in Error Analysis." (I have a prepublication copy, and I don't
recall the journal it appeared in at the moment.) She was looking at error
rates in English relative clause use by speakers of Persian, Arabic, Chinese,
and Japanese. Her point was that the numbers made it look as if Chinese
speakers had relative little trouble learning English relatives because their
error rate was low when a close check of the data (writing samples) showed that
Chinese speakers in fact used significantly fewer relative clauses and tended
rather to make errors in choice of construction than in syntax of construction.
Avoidance of selected syntactic structures appears to be a real phenomenon.
Herb Stahlke
Ball State University
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Message 2: Thats

Date: Thu, 19 Sep 91 09:27:07 +0000
From: "R.Hudson" <uclyrahucl.ac.uk>
Subject: Thats
David Pesetsky asks for more information on structures like `the book thats
cover is red' (I follow Norman Miller's suggestion re spelling - thats, like
its, not that's). I find that I have excellent informants in my family - my
daughters, born and bred in London. No Scottish connections at all. They tell
me that this pattern is used by children across the road that they regularly
baby-sit. So it looks like a dialect feature of middle-class north London too.
I wonder if it's general throughout UK?
The following were all deemed fine (and I myself find them excellent, in fact):
(Incidentally, just in case you think I'm the source of these patterns in
north London, I have no Scottish connections either - born and bred in south
Nottinghamshire, but in London for the last thirty years.):
	This is the pencil that's lead is broken.
	I'm looking for a pencil that's lead isn't broken.
	I'm looking for some pencils that's leads aren't broken.
	This is the pencil that's lead you broke.
However my wife (born and bred in S. Wales) rejects the last example, while
accepting the others.
I accept David Pesetsky's point that these observations don't in themselves
show that THAT is a pronoun for people like him who don't allow THATS. The
logic of the argument is to undermine the argument from the impossibility of
preposition + THAT, as in *`This is the chair on that he sat'. So far as I
know these are impossible in *all* dialects, including the ones where there's
other evidence, eg. from THATS, that THAT is a pronoun, so the traditional
explanation (*in that because THAT isn't a NP) must be wrong. Another piece of
evidence for THAT being a pronoun is that it occurs (cotnrary to what is
widely claimed) in non-restrctive relatives, although these *never* have
a zero relative.
Incidentally, THATS is always pronounced with Schwa, which distinguishes it
quite clearly from demonstrative THAT.
Dick Hudson
Dept of Phonetics and Linguistics,
University College London,
Gower Street,
London WC1E 6BT
(071) 387 7050 ext 3152
home: (081) 340 1253
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Message 3: Re: Thats

Date: Thu, 19 Sep 91 17:37:49 EDT
From: <pesetskATHENA.MIT.EDU>
Subject: Re: Thats
R Hudson writes "I accept David Pesetsky's point that these observations
don't in themselves show that THAT is a pronoun for people like him who
don't allow THATS. The logic of the argument is to undermine the
argument from the impossibility of preposition + THAT, as in *`This is
the chair on that he sat'. So far as I know these are impossible in
*all* dialects, including the ones where there's other evidence, eg.
from THATS, that THAT is a pronoun, so the traditional explanation (*in
that because THAT isn't a NP) must be wrong."
Well, this doesn't follow either, though the observations are
interesting and (to me) surprising. You are probably right that "*in
that" in the UK dialects cannot be explained as a consequence of 'that'
being a complementizer. It remains open whether the fact in these UK
dialects has the same explanation as the fact in more standardly
described dialects. How is "the chair on that's cushion he sat"?
-David
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Message 4: re: 2.532 That's

Date: Fri, 20 Sep 91 9:44:01 MET DST
From: <lachlanlet.vu.nl>
Subject: re: 2.532 That's
In (my) Scottish English, *that's* has to have a singular antecedent. *The books
 that's covers are red* and *the books that's covers Mary tore* are quite out.
 Which suggests that *'s* might be, at least historically, related to a singular
 possessive determiner. There is of course a strong case for regarding *'s* in
 general as an enclitic postposition, historically derived from *his*: *the man
 (h)is wife* becoming *the man's wife*, with *the woman her husband* gradually
 being rivalled by *the woman (h)is husband*, giving *the woman's husband*, as
 *his* in this use lost the feature <masculine>, retaining only the meaning
 <possessive>. In this view, *(h)is* also lost <singular>, so that we find *the
 men (h)is wives*, giving *the men's wives*, and similarly for *the women's
 husbands*.
As for any objections I might have to "scotch": if you're offering, make it a
 double.
Lachlan Mackenzie, Free University, Amsterdam
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Message 5: Re: 2.516 That's

Date: Fri, 20 Sep 91 15:00 CDT
From: Joe Stemberger <STEMBERGER%ELLVAXvx.acs.umn.edu>
Subject: Re: 2.516 That's
About "The book that's cover is red ...".
This strikes me as OK English (though it would be FAR preferable to avoid
the possessive and say "The book that has the red cover" or "The book with
the red cover"). I ran the sentence past my wife, who said, "How else could
you say it?".
In contrast, "The book whose cover is red" sounds odd to me, but maybe
acceptible. My wife, however, protested (very strongly) that this is not
possible in English.
I am from Central Pennsylvania (State College area). Although I lived in
Raleigh, North Carolina until age 7, I have no traces of that dialect left,
as far as anyone can tell, and have other Central Pennsylvania syntactic
patterns (It needs washed; I always be careful; You want in the other lane;
etc.). My wife is from Athens, Ohio originally, and moved to State
College when she was 12, and she DOESN'T have some of those other Central
Pennsylvania syntactic oddities. I have no idea whether this is at all
general. Living here in Minnesota, there aren't very many others from
Central Pennsylvania that I can ask.
David Pesetsky asks whether things like "The book that's cover Mary
tore" are possible. I don't know. It sounds a bit strange, but I don't have
any really violent reactions against it. I doubt if I'd ever say it. The
only NATURAL way would be "The book that Mary tore the cover of", but of
course that doesn't mean that other (fairly unnatural) ways are
ungrammatical.
---joe stemberger
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Message 6: thats

Date: Fri, 20 Sep 91 21:25:10 +0000
From: "R.Hudson" <uclyrahucl.ac.uk>
Subject: thats
In a previous message I claimed that the existence of speakers who accept
THATS as a relative possessive but who also reject THAT after a preposition
(e.g. *The chair on that he was sitting broke) shows that it must be wrong
to use the badness of prep + THAT as evidence that THAT is a complementiser,
not a pronoun. David Pesetsky points out that I overstate my case, and he is
of course right. My argument is valid for users of THATS, but not for other
people, since these two groups of people could, conceivably, have different
reasons for rejecting prep + THAT. However, in the absence of evidence for
any other difference between the two groups (apart from the status of THATS),
there's no reason to believe that this is in fact the case. Whatever motivates
my daughters to reject prep + THAT can equally easily motivate David to do the
same; in fact, more easily, because he has no other temptation to treat THAT
as a pronoun. (Unless he considers some of the other arguments for doing so,
such as its occurrence in non-restrictive relatives.)
He asks for more data, specifically the status (for a THATS user) of sentences
like `This is the chair on thats cushion he sat'. My informant's reaction was
predictable - she dislikes this example intensely. But as she points out, she
also dislikes sentences like `This is the chair on whose cushion he sat', or
even `This is the chair on which he sat' - stranding the preposition is so much
nicer, and pied piping is very literary. This also leads to a stylistic clash
between the definitely literary pied piping and the very non-literary THATS. So
I don't think this example tells us anything.
Let me know if you can think of any crucial examples that would reveal
 differences between her and David which could involve different rules for THAT
 after a
preposition, and I'll try them out on her.
Dick Hudson
Dept of Phonetics and Linguistics,
University College London,
Gower Street,
London WC1E 6BT
(071) 387 7050 ext 3152
home: (081) 340 1253
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