[Ads-l] The part of speech of it

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Fri Oct 2 13:54:59 UTC 2015

On 10/2/15 12:00 AM, ADS-L automatic digest system wrote:
> Date:    Thu, 1 Oct 2015 12:05:42 -0400
> From:    Laurence Horn<laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject: Re: The part of speech of it
>> >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..."
Right, I've been hurting my brain by reading Pullum & Huddleston's 
_Student's Intro to English Grammar_, so let's see if I can use what 
I've learned:

They treat pronouns as a special subclass of nouns, because the two 
groups share some characteristics (but have their differences, like 
taking a determinative or not).

Should we be distinguishing between PoS and function?

Is that elliptical, Larry, what might be called a "fused head" 
construction? Where the "IT" (ha, I used a determiner with it :-) ) is 
serving as the head of an NP ("whoever is IT").

In my analysis, "IT" is still a pronoun: this is just a specialized use. 
(So I agree w/ OED. . . )

---Amy West

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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