[Ads-l] The part of speech of it

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Oct 1 16:05:42 UTC 2015


> On Oct 1, 2015, at 11:48 AM, Geoffrey Steven Nathan <geoffnathan at wayne.edu> wrote:
> 
> 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.

OK, let's keep the all-caps for our "IT".  For me, "Chris is IT" is much more natural than "IT is Chris" (much less "IT's Chris").  I agree about the acceptability of "IT has to touch people..." but I take that as elliptical for "The one who is IT..."  
> 
> On the other hand, to me 'clean-up' feels like an adverb. It's a place or time, and semantically it modifies 'bats'.

It does seem to answer the question "Where is Gehrig (in the line-up)", if that makes it an adverb.  It doesn't always modify "bats", though.  Is "fourth" an adverb in "He's (hitting/batting) fourth"?  

LH

> 
> Geoffrey S. Nathan
> Faculty Liaison, C&IT
> and Professor, Linguistics Program
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> ________________________________________
> 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
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