[Ads-l] The part of speech of it

Geoffrey Steven Nathan geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU
Thu Oct 1 15:48:56 UTC 2015


I disagree with Larry that this 'it' can't be a subject. For me it can, as for example, in explaining the rules of a particular kind of 'tag'. '

Let's say that IT has to touch people with two hands'. 

So that would make IT a proper noun, I guess, since it rejects any kind of Determiner.

On the other hand, to me 'clean-up' feels like an adverb. It's a place or time, and semantically it modifies 'bats'.

Geoffrey S. Nathan
Faculty Liaison, C&IT
and Professor, Linguistics Program
http://blogs.wayne.edu/proftech/
+1 (313) 577-1259 (C&IT)

Nobody at Wayne State will EVER ask you for your password. Never send it to anyone in an email, no matter how authentic the email looks.

________________________________________
From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
Sent: Thursday, October 1, 2015 11:41 AM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: The part of speech of it

---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
Subject:      Re: The part of speech of it
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

> On Oct 1, 2015, at 11:09 AM, Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM> =
wrote:
>=20
> I can't answer the question, but to me it is the same as 'trumps' in =
the
> sentence "Spades are trumps."

But "trumps" can be a subject as in "Trumps win against all other =
suits", while "it" can't (for me, anyway).  "Trump" I think is an =
ordinary noun (although I can think of one who would beg to differ), =
allowing modification ("small trumps"), while "it" isn't and doesn't.
>=20
> It is also similar to 'cleanup' in the sentence "Duda is batting =
cleanup."

The OED has "clean-up" as a noun "freq. attrib." (clean-up hitter); =
there's a 1909 cite referring to "batters of the 'clean-up' kind", not =
apparently referring to the fourth hitter in the lineup, but by 1922 a =
cite refers to the "the clean-up position".  But none of these are =
possible for "it", which only occurs predicatively, so I don't think =
we've cracked the puzzle yet. (You can get "the 'it' role", but that's =
metalinguistic or quotational in a way "the cleanup position" isn't.) =20=


It doesn't really pattern with predicate-only adjectives either, since =
it doesn't pass the adjective test:

She seems (looks, sounds) asleep/agog/awake.
#She seems (looks, sounds) it. =20

The OED does get to our "it" eventually (after many other entries, =
including one glossed as 'sexual intercourse'--it is a very versatile =
word), taking it to be a noun (and not worrying about its distributional =
restrictions).  The first cite is from Scotland:

C, n. 1  a. In children's games: (the name of) the player who has the =
task of catching or touching any of the others. Also fig. and in =
extended use. Cf. he n.1 3a.

1825   J. Jamieson Etymol. Dict. Sc. Lang. Suppl.   It, a term applied, =
in the games of young people, to the person whose lot it is to afford =
the sport. Thus, in Blindman's Buff, he who is blindfolded is It, in =
Loth.

C, n. 1b. is a synonym for the game itself, i.e. "tag":

2.  b. A children's game in which one player has the task of catching or =
touching any of the others

LH

>=20
> I think 'maillot jaune' works the same way, n'est-ce pas? Also Punto =
and
> Banco in baccarat.
>=20
> DanG
>=20
> On Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 5:15 AM, Benjamin Barrett =
<gogaku at ix.netcom.com>
> wrote:
>=20
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM>
>> Subject:      The part of speech of it
>>=20
>> =
--------------------------------------------------------------------------=
-----
>>=20
>> In various children=3DE2=3D80=3D99s games, such as tag, freeze tag =
and =3D
>> hide-and-seek, one person is designated as it, which perhaps can be =3D=

>> summarized as the person having the role of making someone else it =3D
>> according to various rules. Wiktionary and the Oxford Dictionary site =
=3D
>> say the role is to catch other players. I don=3DE2=3D80=3D99t think =
the caller =3D
>> in mother, may I? or Simon says is referred to as it.
>>=20
>> Wiktionary =
(https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttps-3A__en.wiktionary.org_=
wiki_it-23Noun&d=3DAwIBaQ&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13=
gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=3D-4MrIZN-o_h0_cP-NMv7bRZsne8KYPSHkgZwBxI0r4I=
&s=3Dy4GtY6CbIqHpLPk9YZINpVwBgQB0f-BYnATzPKdDnK0&e=3D ) lists this as a =
noun =3D
>> and the Oxford Dictionary site =3D
>> =
(https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttp-3A__www.oxforddictionar=
ies.com_definition_american-5Fenglish_it-23IT&d=3DAwIBaQ&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0=
MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=3D-4MrIZN-o_h0=
_cP-NMv7bRZsne8KYPSHkgZwBxI0r4I&s=3D1lbufLBxF5ST9ndo1TKRa86aexotO73IlLAZIS=
xNdy4&e=3D ) =3D
>> lists it as a pronoun.
>>=20
>> 1. Noun?
>> If if it=3DE2=3D80=3D99s a noun, you should be able to say,=3D20
>>=20
>> * =3DE2=3D80=3D9CRachel=3DE2=3D80=3D99s the it.=3DE2=3D80=3D9D=3D20
>>=20
>> (Wiktionary but not Oxford has a different definition that probably =3D=

>> works for this.)
>>=20
>> 2. Pronoun?
>> If it=3DE2=3D80=3D99s a pronoun, you should be able to say,=3D20
>>=20
>> * =3DE2=3D80=3D9CRachel is it. It is trying to catch me!=3DE2=3D80=3D9D=

>>=20
>> Neither of those work, and the Wiktionary illustrative sentence =
(which =3D
>> appears to not be a citation) is, "In the next game, Adam and Tom =
will =3D
>> be it=3DE2=3D80=3DA6=3DE2=3D80=3D9D showing that this =
=3DE2=3D80=3D9Cit=3DE2=3D80=3D9D can be =3D
>> plural.
>>=20
>> 3. Proper noun?
>> I don=3DE2=3D80=3D99t think it=3DE2=3D80=3D99s a proper noun, either, =
along the =3D
>> lines of Miss America:=3D20
>>=20
>> Rachel was last year=3DE2=3D80=3D99s Miss America/ * yesterday's it
>>=20
>> 4. Predicate adjective?
>> Could it be a predicate adjective, along the lines of =
=3DE2=3D80=3D9Caglow"?=3D20=3D
>>=20
>>=20
>> The ice rink was aglow
>> Rachel was aglow
>>=20
>> * The aglow ice rink
>> * The it Rachel
>>=20
>> My first guess is predicate adjective and second proper noun.
>>=20
>> Benjamin Barrett
>> Formerly of Seattle, WA
>>=20
>> Learn Ainu! =
https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttps-3A__sites.google.com_si=
te_aynuitak1_-3D&d=3DAwIBaQ&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X4Mu39hB2bf=
13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=3D-4MrIZN-o_h0_cP-NMv7bRZsne8KYPSHkgZwBxI0r=
4I&s=3DOt_oLMGY2eV7MlWEuaDh6dAfhObzFw5-pyqGlTFAsAY&e=3D=20
>>=20
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - =
https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttp-3A__www.americandialect.=
org&d=3DAwIBaQ&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsS=
xPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=3D-4MrIZN-o_h0_cP-NMv7bRZsne8KYPSHkgZwBxI0r4I&s=3DLj1pss=
XARrqUdAjgTlyARvgKIJIqRPuulEPhUkb4ID4&e=3D=20
>>=20
>=20
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - =
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org&d=3DAwIBaQ&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsS=
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