[Ads-l] Is this what it seems?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Aug 8 18:31:40 UTC 2015


> On Aug 8, 2015, at 8:34 AM, Neal Whitman <nwhitman at ameritech.net> wrote:
> 
> I take it to be a copula-less cleft construction: "It's only women [that/who are] in the shop."
> 
> Neal

That's how I took it as well, although there certainly are plenty of speakers who use "it" as an expletive subject rather than (or as well as) "there", or "they". For one thing, I can pretty much accept the sentence Wilson cites, but I'm definitely not an it-existential speaker (I wouldn't get "It's a lot of people in the restaurant tonight").  I had more of a double-take on the assertive content, which I understood to suggest that there's a whole bunch of customers who present and/or self-identify as male only or primarily on Valentine's Day, which seems like an interesting tradition, even for Chinese restaurants.

LH
> 
> On 8/7/2015 11:01 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
>> Subject:      Is this what it seems?
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> 
>> "Valentine=E2=80=99s Day is one of the few times of the year when most China Star
>> customers are male. Usually,_it's_ only women in the shop..."
>> 
>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.newyorker.com_magazine_2015_08_10_learning-2Dto-2Dspeak-2Dlingerie&d=AwIC-g&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=dxYxSAN0dR2i1olRLnDol1OUMvshEbIrVDjkkBD8X0M&s=dlAEmDTuPA5YF92ygyyajVMrUJqjOXA-K2MJPChjJRM&e= 
>> 
>> Not "... there are/there're/there is/there's only women ..."?
>> 
>> --
>> -Wilson
>> -----
>> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
>> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>> -Mark Twain
> 
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