Date: Fri, 26 Dec 1997 14:24:30 -0500 From: "Dennis R. Preston" Subject: Re: WEIRD EXISTENTIAL Ron, 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 of situations. For example, 'OK, we did that. It's (just) that we have to go on and figure out your ...' (made-up data). Dennis >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 >1997." > >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] Office: (517)353-0740 Fax: (517)432-2736