Heard on local news: there were > it was --- (possible blend)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed May 26 16:08:04 UTC 2010

At 10:51 AM -0500 5/26/10, Cohen, Gerald Leonard wrote:
>This is a slightly belated reply. The sentence cited below by Wilson
>Gray looks like a blend, deriving from:
>"...just in case there were more problems on the boat than we thought"  plus
>"just in case it was more serious on the boat than we thought."
>G. Cohen

Why invoke a blending analysis?  "It" is well established as an
expletive (or dummy) subject across many dialects (corresponding to
standard "there"), although I wasn't familiar with it in Martha's
Vineyard.  It's the usual expletive for existential sentences in many
southern varieties and AAVE.  It seems more likely that this is an
instance of that well-established use of "it" as an expletive than an
online blend.  (The singular, or unmarked, agreement in the example
is also frequent in existential sentences for many varieties,
especially with "it" as the dummy rather than "there".)


>Original message from Wilson Gray, Mon 10/6/2008 8:52 AM
>Subject: Heard on local news: there were > it was
>Local, white-male resident of Matha's Vineyard, MA, describing his
>response to seeing from land a fire on a ferry:
>"I alerted the authorities, just in case _it was_ more problems on the
>boat than we thought."
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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