[Ads-l] The part of speech of it

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Fri Oct 2 00:24:13 UTC 2015


Putting an adjective in front of “it” seems a little odd, but I agree it makes sense. Perhaps, then, this is just a noun like “breakfast” which generally takes no article unless preceded by an adjective:

I ate breakfast
I ate a fast breakfast

Rachel is it
Rachel is a fast it

That was _the_ breakfast of the conference
Rachel was _the_ it of the grand tag tourney

the underline indicating emphasis

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA

Learn Ainu! https://sites.google.com/site/aynuitak1/

> Il giorno 1 ott 2015, alle ore 16:35, Joel Berson <berson at ATT.NET> ha scritto:
> 
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Joel Berson <berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: The part of speech of it
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 
> But "it" can be modified by an adjective -- "He was an ineffective/lazy it,=
> and didn't catch anyone."=C2=A0 Although I would put this "it" in quotes, =
> which perhaps makes it not an exception to Larry's analysis.
> 
> Joel
>      From: Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU=20
> Sent: Thursday, October 1, 2015 11:41 AM
> Subject: Re: [ADS-L] The part of speech of it
>  =20
>> 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", w=
> hile "it" can't (for me, anyway).=C2=A0 "Trump" I think is an ordinary noun=
> (although I can think of one who would beg to differ), allowing modificati=
> on ("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".=C2=A0 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 quotationa=
> l in a way "the cleanup position" isn't.)=C2=A0=20
> 
> It doesn't really pattern with predicate-only adjectives either, since it d=
> oesn't pass the adjective test:
> 
> She seems (looks, sounds) asleep/agog/awake.
> #She seems (looks, sounds) it.=C2=A0=20
> 
> The OED does get to our "it" eventually (after many other entries, includin=
> g one glossed as 'sexual intercourse'--it is a very versatile word), taking=
> it to be a noun (and not worrying about its distributional restrictions).=
> =C2=A0 The first cite is from Scotland:
> 
> C, n. 1=C2=A0 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 u=
> se. Cf. he n.1 3a.
> 
> 1825=C2=A0 J. Jamieson Etymol. Dict. Sc. Lang. Suppl.=C2=A0 It, a term appl=
> ied, 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.=C2=A0 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:=C2=A0 =C2=A0 =C2=A0 American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA=
> .EDU>
>>> Poster:=C2=A0 =C2=A0 =C2=A0 Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM>
>>> Subject:=C2=A0 =C2=A0 =C2=A0 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.wi=
> ktionary.org_wiki_it-23Noun&d=3DAwIBaQ&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X=
> 4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=3D-4MrIZN-o_h0_cP-NMv7bRZsne8KYPSH=
> kgZwBxI0r4I&s=3Dy4GtY6CbIqHpLPk9YZINpVwBgQB0f-BYnATzPKdDnK0&e=3D ) lists th=
> is as a noun =3D
>>> and the Oxford Dictionary site =3D
>>> (https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttp-3A__www.oxforddiction=
> aries.com_definition_american-5Fenglish_it-23IT&d=3DAwIBaQ&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ=
> 0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=3D-4MrIZN-o_h0=
> _cP-NMv7bRZsne8KYPSHkgZwBxI0r4I&s=3D1lbufLBxF5ST9ndo1TKRa86aexotO73IlLAZISx=
> Ndy4&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, al=
> ong 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=3D9Cagl=
> ow"?=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

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