"like that"

Mon Jan 15 20:07:44 UTC 2001

I posted something on this last week that didn't get through the
server, apparently.  Maybe didn't even get to it.

AAR, the fact that "like that", where "that" is clearly a
complementizer and not a deictic, is coming back into SE strikes
me as a syntactic analog of the 16th and 17th c. "meet/meat/mate"
problem that Labov has written about, a case where change is
apparently reversed but what has really happened is that a dialect
as lost a distinction that persists in another dialect and later
borrows that distinction back from the other dialect.  Maybe
Labov's New York /r/ study is a better analogy, since this isn't
really a reversal of a merger.

SE has been losing "X+that" constructions for several centuries.
About the only ones that have survived are "except that", "in
that", "now that", and the rare "but that".


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