Date: Fri, 26 Dec 1997 14:24:30 -0500
From: "Dennis R. Preston" preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU
Subject: Re: WEIRD EXISTENTIAL
I will retire this comment if 'is that' turns out to be such an item, but I
wonder if you have misheard a fast speech realization of 'it is that'? This
is still odd but is at least a construction which could have been more
resonably worked into the usage you describe. This form (especially with
'just') seems to occur pretty often in quasi-apologetic 'what next' kinds
'OK, we did that. It's (just) that we have to go on and figure out your
...' (made-up data).
I recently had a two-hour conversation with my real-estate-lending agent. He
has a peculiar syntactic form that I wonder if is just an idiosyncrasy or if
others are familir with it as well. He begins sentences with IS THAT used as
an existential, as in
"Okay. Is that we have to see copies of your 1996 tax returns."
"Well, now, thats done. Is that we need to calculate your gross income for
This guy is a native speaker. Born in New York. Is he weird or what?
Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]pilot.msu.edu