LINGUIST List 3.179

Tue 25 Feb 1992

Disc: All's, Not

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Judy Delin, Re: 3.174 All's
  2. , 3.174 All's & ways
  3. , Re: 3.174 All's
  4. John Phillips, Re: 3.174 All's
  5. Dale Savage, related to not
  6. Martin Wynne, retrogressive negation in Britain

Message 1: Re: 3.174 All's

Date: Sun, 23 Feb 92 16:52:51 GMRe: 3.174 All's
From: Judy Delin <>
Subject: Re: 3.174 All's

> In reply to Ellen Contini-Morava's question, I doubt very much
> whether the use of "all's" in relative clauses (e.g. "all's you
> need to do is ...") is related to German "alles". This use of
> "all's" is a very common part of my native dialect (San Francisco
> Bay Area), and most of us are at best several generations removed
> from anything German.

The `all' sentences are clearly cleft-like, which sets me off on a
thread that might be relevant. `All I need to do is x', first of all,
has an inverted version that I have heard and seen written in American
English (no region, sorry) but which doesn't occur as far as I know in
British English (although I'm interested to hear if anyone thinks
otherwise): `You just need to do x, is all'. It prompts me to wonder
whether the +s of `all's' is in fact a second copula, resulting from a
re-clefting of the original cleft, and then eliding the two resulting
`all's'. To illustrate what I mean without trying to draw trees via
the keyboard, the following set of sentences might help:

Begin with a simple canonical sentence, such as (a):

a) You need to do x

Perform an all-cleft:

b) All you need to do is x

Here is where the re-clefting part comes in. You can do one of two
things. One: perform an inverted all-cleft on (b), using (b) as the
focus of the resulting, new cleft:

c) All you need to do is x, is all

and invert the result (which, incidentally, I've never seen or heard---does
anyone do this?)

d) All is, all you need to do is x

Or the less baroque two: you can simply embed the cleft (b) directly in a
structure like (d), without the inversion part (although this is less
attractive for another reason, namely that (d) exists only debatably,
whereas (c) is common). However you got to this point, however, now
elide the `all's, making one `all' act as the entire complement of the
main (external) copula at one level, and as an internal part of the
subject of the internal copula at the embedded level:

e) All is you need to do is x

Finally, reduce the external copula:

f) All's you need to do is x

I don't think this is what anyone actually *thinks*, but the analysis
might well give an explanation to the otherwise-unanalysable `s'. The
re-clefting of the already-cleft sentence could be explained simply by
a requirement for extra emphasis or other cleft-like properties. Rather
than end up with the extremely clumsy (d), Ohioans (?) might
decide that a simple copula-insertion might serve the purpose. Is all.

Finally, re-clefting of already-cleft sentences is OK for other cleft types:

g) Blue was what I wanted

can be reclefted as

h) It was blue that was what I wanted

and sentences like (i) are also possible:

i) What is was was it was Paul that arrived late

Although you might argue that these are the result of replanning or hesitation
in mid-stream, they do occur.

Judy Delin
School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences
University of Sussex, U.K.
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Message 2: 3.174 All's & ways

Date: 22 Feb 92
From: <>
Subject: 3.174 All's & ways

Although I had forgotten about it until reading the recent postings,
"all's" was part of my childhood dialect too, possibly from my
midwestern grandmother who lived with me -- I don't remember it as
being particularly characteristic of the south Texas speech I grew up
around. But the reason I'm posting here is to note a possibly related
phenomenon, which I just noticed when I was writing a message to
someone. I also have a colloquial intrusive -s in the phrase "a
little/long ways", as in "it's a little ways from here", instead of
the expected "way". If there is any relation, it raises difficulties
for all of the explanations which have been proffered, such as the
contracted "as" or the German derivation.

Paul Chapin
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Message 3: Re: 3.174 All's

Date: Sat, 22 Feb 1992 16:10 ESTRe: 3.174 All's
From: <>
Subject: Re: 3.174 All's

Here's another Clevelander who says "alls"!

Specifically, I'm from the West Side neighborhood called South Brooklyn,
decidedly a German enclave--there was even a Lutheran parochial school
competing with Our Lady of Good Counsel--in the early 50s when I was starting
to talk. On the other hand, though all my Cleveland relatives were of
German descent, I don't recall any of them talking that way themselves...

My own naive analysis, by the way, had always been "all as".
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Message 4: Re: 3.174 All's

Date: Mon, 24 Feb 92 12:19:15 GMRe: 3.174 All's
From: John Phillips <>
Subject: Re: 3.174 All's

Surely the 'as' in 'all's' is just the dialectical form of
the relative or complementiser which is 'that' in standard
English. The following uses would be unexceptional in
Northern England.

It was him as did it.
Who do you mean - him as his mother died last week?
I thought as how he was coming tonight anyway.

			John Phillips
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Message 5: related to not

Date: Tue, 18 Feb 92 19:15:27 CSrelated to not
From: Dale Savage <>
Subject: related to not

I was doing some fun reading last night and ran across the following datum
from 1918. It's not not, but has the same sassy flavor as post posed not.
It is, rather, a post posed clause negating the just uttered sentence.

It is from "Tonto Basin" a factual story by Zane Grey about a 1918 Arizona
hunting trip with his 9 year old son, Romer, and his brother, R.C.


 "Look here, kid," said R.C., "save something for tomorrow."

 In disgust Romer replied, "Well, I suppose if a flock of antelope came
along here you wouldn't move.... You an' Dad are great hunters, I don't


One could easily imagine a 1990's version in which Romer replies,
"You an' Dad are great hunters, not!" :)

Dale Savage
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Message 6: retrogressive negation in Britain

Date: Mon, 24 Feb 92 16:52:18 GMretrogressive negation in Britain
From: Martin Wynne <>
Subject: retrogressive negation in Britain

Another case of retrogressive negation. The NOT! and BUT! cases
already mentioned do not occur in British English to my knowledge.
(Has anybody heard kids pick up NOT! yet, perhaps from Bill & Ted
films?). However there is a very common counterpart, especially
among younger speakers. I heard the following recently:

(1) - I don't mind working here.
 - Much!

The second speaker was 26 years old from Bolton (Lancs.) and has a
marked regional dialect. However, I'm from the other end of the
country (Cambridgeshire) and it reminded me that this was very
common in my school days. I'd guess it comes from sentences like:

(2) - I don't like school dinners (very) much.

with the 'much' becoming detached. As far as my intuitions go, it
can be uttered by the same speaker, as if in response to his own
statement, or by another as in my example above. I think it more
common with negative sentences, where it could normally be added,
as in (2) above, but it can used more widely, as in:

(3) - I'm going to get a job in the City.
 - Much!
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