LINGUIST List 7.1747

Tue Dec 10 1996

Sum: "Impossible that" construction

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1. hiro-t, Summary: impossible that

Message 1: Summary: impossible that

Date: Tue, 10 Dec 96 13:02:37 JST
From: hiro-t <>
Subject: Summary: impossible that

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- --------------- Message requiring your approval (56 lines) ------------------
Dear Colleague,
 On November 7, my colleague (who unfortunately have no access to
the Linguist List) and I have raised some questions about the meaning of
the "It be impossible that..." construction.

 We asked you if the following sentences are acceptable or not.

 (1) It is impossible that she knew about his success.
 (2) It is impossible that she should have known about his success.
 (3) It is impossible that one man could cause so much trouble.

 As to (2) we have claimed that when _should_ is used in _that_-clauses
the speaker entertains doubts about the truth of _that_ clauses. And we
asked you if the sam holds for the use of _could_ in _that_-clauses as
in (3).

 Soon after our query, we got 16 responses. Thank you very much for
answering our questions. We would express our sincere thanks to the
following people who supplied useful data:
"Martin Wynne" <>
billy clark <>
Virginia Brennan <brennavnctrvax.Vanderbilt.Edu> (Nancy Frishberg at home) Colin Whiteley
George Huttar 709 2400 <George_HuttarSIL.ORG>
"Matt Richardson (GD 2000?)" <> (Keith Battarbee) (Martha McGinnis)
Karen Davis <>
ragnirenglobalnet.itMichael Robertson (Michael Israel)
Steven Schaufele <>
Peter Daniels <>

 The summary is as follows: First, some British English speaker did
not permit sentence (1). Secondly, all of the SAmerican English speakers
 rejected _should_ in (2), and some of the British English speakers did
not like it. Thirdly, everybody said that (3) is acceptable. Some
pointed out that when _could_ is used in _that_-clauses, the speaker
entertains doubts about the truth of _that_-clauses.

 Please e-mail me (Tanaka) if you have further comments on this matter.

Hiroaki Tanaka

Associate Professor,
1-1, Minamijousanjima-cho, Tokushima, 770, Japan
Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences,
Tokushima University, Japan
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