Bob Fitzke fitzke at MICHCOM.NET
Sat Jun 21 21:26:33 UTC 2003

My comment about my family physician was aimed at the use of "It's that...."
in connection with his stutter. He's dead so I can't ask him. But I was
always of the impression that he used "It's that..." not so much as a matter
of simple choice but, rather, because that specific phrase helped him
control his stutter. I defer to your other comments about "Is that..." as I
don't have any particular expertise in linguistics.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Arnold Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
Sent: Saturday, June 21, 2003 1:40 PM
Subject: Re: Zero-option

> bob fitzke:
>  >Many years ago I had a family doctor who started most of his
>  >sentences, "It's that....". I subsequently learned he had a
>  >pronounced stutter and was somehow better able to control it by
>  >starting sentences this way. Perhaps the gentleman who starts his
>  >sentences with "Is..." may have some reason for doing so other than
>  >it being simply idiosyncratic.
> well, yes, but the family doctor chose something that was already
> available in the language, "It's that" + S, an alternative to things
> like "The thing is that" + S (most commonly used, i think, to express
> some connection, often of contrast, to previous discourse).
> even if ron butters's acquaintance uses sentence-introducing "is
> (that)" for some personal reason, he's still chosen something in
> the language (his language, at any rate) for this purpose.  it's
> not as if people just seize on random stuff, like "foondig" or
> "at's them".
> there is, however, the possibility that sentence-introducing "is
> (that)" arose from "it's that", though there are several points that
> speak against this proposal: the phonetic route from [Its] to [Iz] is
> problematic; "it's that" has obligatory auxiliary reduction ("It is
> that we have to go" is just not possible, except as a
> hypercorrection), so that there is literally no "is" in "it's that" to
> serve as the source of the "is" in "is (that)"; and the "that" of
> "it's that" is also obligatory ("It's we have to go" is not possible
> for me, and i haven't collected any examples of "it's" used this way),
> while the "that" of "is (that)" is optional, so that there's no "it's"
> source for things like "Is we have to go" (which are attested).

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