LINGUIST List 4.38

Sat 23 Jan 1993

Disc: Relatives

Editor for this issue: <>


  • Patrick John Coppock, 4.21 Queries: Curious "it", Genitive "that"
  • , New Relative

    Message 1: 4.21 Queries: Curious "it", Genitive "that"

    Date: Wed, 20 Jan 1993 02:31:54 4.21 Queries: Curious "it", Genitive "that"
    From: Patrick John Coppock <>
    Subject: 4.21 Queries: Curious "it", Genitive "that" writes Sat, 16 Jan 93 10:47:48 EST:

    >"Bottom line is we want them to bring a product to market that's <=== > time had not yet come," said Ray Farhung, a Southern California > Edison official... > -- from: "Cool Contest", by Bill Vlasic > The Detroit News, p.1D, January 10, 1993 > > Note the genitive case of the relative marker "that" in the quotation > above. Before this, I'd always inclined to the view that relative > "that" and complementizer "that" were both non-referential, but the > appearance of an obvious case marker here makes it abundantly clear > that this "that", as used by at least one person, can be referential. > > I don't know whether to attribute the usage to the reported source, Ray > Farhung, or the author, Bill Vlasic. Either way, it's something I've > never seen before. > > Anybody else encountered a genitive "that"?

    What you seem to have here is a type of referential relative marker complementary to the "whose" in:

    "The man whose wife left him last week was angry with her."

    with "that" being used instead of the genitive whose, since it was a product that was being referred to, and not a person.

    In Norwegian there is a type of construction which is used both for things and human beings, namely the word "hvis", which is normally used to mean "if", but which, in constructions like.

    "mannen hvis kone var sur, ble slaatt paa hodet av henne" (the man whose wife was grumpy got hit on the head by her)

    acts a genitive referential.

    So what you have here is one lexical item being used in two different types of functional this a genitive "if" or something else?

    pat coppock dept of applied linguistics university of trondheim avh n-7055 trondheim

    Message 2: New Relative

    Date: Thu, 21 Jan 93 19:54 GMT New Relative
    From: <>
    Subject: New Relative

    This is as a comment to John Lawler's new relative pronoun:

    Is this use of "that's" a new variety of the "greengrocer's apostrophe" "virus" which is prevalent here in the UK and is diversifying. I wondered if this virus - or is it a "meme" in Richard Dawkins terms? - is also at work in the States.

    We have been accustomed for years, to being offered "apple's 30p/lb", "carrot's 15p/lb" or whatever. An acquaintance of mine, a while back found a new pernicious strain, though I can't remember the exact context - a notice which had the form "he goe's" or similar third person verb infected. My latest sighting was a new departure, on a notice put up by Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council on a roadside in Shepherd's Bush here in London:

    "Resurfacing Work starts Sunday's 10 Jan 1993"

    Do we have yet another variety across the Atlantic?

    Mark Hilton University of Westminster