LINGUIST List 2.557

Wed 25 Sep 1991

Disc: That's

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. "R.Hudson", thats
  2. , what(')s
  3. BROADWELL GEORGE AARON, that and thut

Message 1: thats

Date: Tue, 24 Sep 91 15:49:21 +0000
From: "R.Hudson" <>
Subject: thats
 ------- Forwarded Message
 Subject: Re: thats
 Date: Sat, 21 Sep 91 08:57:21 EDT
Thanks for your reply. My system is semi-down, so I'm operating from
a "temporary directory". I can read my new mail but don't have access
to old messages or my alias file, including the address of LINGUIST.
If you want to forward my message to LINGUIST, I'd be grateful, since
I'm out of town for the next week. Otherwise, perhaps this can be
private. The world at large is probably tired of the discussion.
If "the chair on thats cushion I sat" is out due to a clash between
the formality of pied piping and the informality of "thats", then
aren't all cases , e.g. "the chair on that I sat" out for the same
reason. Or is there some perceived distinction between the two cases?
- -David Pesetsky
------- End of Forwarded Message
Comment from Dick Hudson: Yes, they may well be, though I feel the badness
of *on that is too clear to be just a matter of style clash. Both wh pronouns
and pied piping are high style, so it's not surprising they go together. The
point is, though, that whatever explanation there is for the badness of
*on that does NOT rest on the belief that THAT is a complementiser, not a
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Message 2: what(')s

Date: Mon, 23 Sep 91 10:06:09 EST
From: <>
Subject: what(')s
>From a totally obscure Dickens short story, "Mugby Junction", ch. 3:
"I am the boy at what is called The Refreshment Room at Mugby Junction,
and what's proudest boast is, that it never yet refreshed a mortal being."
	As we now know, Dickens should have left out the apostrophe. The
speaker is using a vernacular but not excessively caricaturized speech.
Dickens has him say "sitiwated" and "ockipying", without the glide, and
the boy uses sg-conjugated verbs with plural subjects and says "cotched"
and "riz", but he's no Sam Weller. The location implied is fairly near
London, or rather, some 3-5 hours away by a (non-express, I think) 1840s
train. How far Dickens is to be trusted for dialectal details when he
gets going, I don't know, but at least he had encountered that usage.
--Elise Morse-Gagne
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Message 3: that and thut

Date: Tue, 24 Sep 91 14:26:38 -0400
Subject: that and thut
I found the comment that some speakers distinguish the complementizer
*that* and demonstrative *that* in pronunciation very interesting. (The
complementizer was pronounced with a schwa, so approximately *thut*.)
In my own speech there is a somewhat similar difference in pronunciation
between *there* as a demonstrative pronoun and *there* as an expletive.
The demonstrative has a low front vowel (`ash' or /ae/), while the
expletive has a lax mid front vowel (`epsilon' or /E/). I pointed this
out in one of my syntax classes and only got blank stares (none of my
students could hear the difference!).
I wonder if the differences between the demonstrative and expletive/
complementizer pronunciations are related to the typically unstressed
forms of the latter?
Aaron Broadwell, Dept. of Linguistics, University at Albany -- SUNY,
Albany, NY 12222
"A bigot delights in public ridicule, for he begins to think he is a
martyr" -- Sydney Smith
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