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    #31

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    It refers to the subject of the first sentence A captain.
    Oh, you're right!

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I wouldn't say it answers the question 'who?'.
    I sometimes forget that roles/professions answer to the question 'what?' in English. They're always 'who' in Russian.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I'm not sure about this one. It seems like a dummy to me.

    We can verify that with a test for an anaphor:

    "
    It makes sense too." -> "What makes sense?" -> "The fact that they have a vote at the start of the season."

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    The deictic use of a demonstrative here is the speaker's way of pointing out the importance of what he's just said.
    Does it mean that 'this' is optional here? I mean the speaker could've used 'it' if (s)he hadn't wanted to point the importance out.

    Last edited by Alexey86; 26-May-2020 at 18:18.
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    #32

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    We can check it out with a test for cataphora:

    "
    It makes sense too." -> "What makes sense?" -> "The fact that they have a vote at the start of the season."
    The fact that the team chooses its captain makes sense, yes.

    You'll have to ask a grammar expert about the grammar, but I think it's right to say that there's no antecedent/postcedent of it, which makes it a dummy.

    But yes, you're right that the 'referent' is the fact that the team chooses its own captain.


    Does it mean that 'this' is optional here? I mean the speaker could have used 'it' if (s)he hadn't wanted to point the importance out.
    Yes, right.

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    #33

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    We can check it out with a test for cataphora:

    "
    It makes sense too." -> "What makes sense?" -> "The fact that they have a vote at the start of the season."
    I changed ''We can check it out with a test for cataphora'' to "We can verify that with a test for an anaphor" just before your replied.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Yes, right.
    The most difficult thing is to figure out whether the choice of pronoun is free or not.

    What do you think of the rest examples (2-5)? Are pronouns interchangeable there?

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    #34

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    What do you think of the rest examples (2-5)? Are pronouns interchangeable there?
    Don't ever ask me if two words are interchangeable because I'll almost always try to answer 'no'. The question is not whether two pronouns are interchangeable, but why the speaker decided to use the word he did.

    Well it turns out all of the security dialogs were written in Java. Somebody thought it would be a good idea to have the security manager be a Java application so that you didn't have to port to all the different [platforms]. It makes sense, I guess.
    We're talking about the It in the last sentence, right? I think it's comparable to the one in the first example. When the referent is understood as an idea expressible grammatically as a that-clause, a non-deictic it is a natural and sufficient choice.

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    #35

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Don't ever ask me if two words are interchangeable because I'll almost always try to answer 'no'.
    Understood.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I think it's comparable to the one in the first example. When the referent is understood as an idea expressible grammatically as a that-clause, a non-deictic it is a natural and sufficient choice.
    In this case the referent is the idea expressed as an infinitive phrase (clause?): "It makes sense." -> "What?" -> "To have the security manager be a Java application so that you didn't have to port to all the different [platforms]."
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    #36

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    In this case the referent is the idea expressed as an infinitive phrase (clause?): "It makes sense." -> "What?" -> "To have the security manager be a Java application so that you didn't have to port to all the different [platforms]."
    Oh, yes, sorry. Still, the same goes for to-infinitive clauses. Look at the following sentences:

    It's hard to fall asleep.
    To fall asleep is hard.

    It's a good idea that you leave now.
    That you leave now is a good idea.


    I wish I knew how to explain the grammar of the first sentences of each pair ('extraposed' subjects or something like that?). I believe that the its are best regarded as dummies, but you can understand them as anteceding the longer subject phrases. In that sense, they're clearly anaphoric. You can't use this/that with this kind of reference.

    (It looks like it's just you and me again, Alexey. How did that happen!)

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    #37

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Oh, yes, sorry. Still, the same goes for to-infinitive clauses. Look at the following sentences:

    It's hard to fall asleep.
    To fall asleep is hard.

    It's a good idea that you leave now.
    That you leave now is a good idea.
    I've never had difficulties with an extraposed 'it'. But if I change your example to an anaphoric structure, the choice of pronoun won't be so clear to me:

    - To fall asleep is hard for him.
    - That's true. -> What's true? -> The fact that to fall asleep is hard for him.

    Would 'it' work here too? If not, how does this example differ from:

    - Somebody thought it would be a good idea to have the security manager be a Java application so that you didn't have to port to all the different [platforms]"
    - It makes sense. -> What? -> (The idea) to have the security manager ...

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    (It looks like it's just you and me again, Alexey. How did that happen!)
    Given that my manner of discussing things can be quite tedious, it's a miracle that you are still here with me.
    Last edited by Alexey86; 27-May-2020 at 17:40.
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    #38

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    - To fall asleep is hard for him.
    - That's true. -> What's true? -> The fact that to fall asleep is hard for him.

    Would 'it' work here too?

    Your chain of thought here suggests to me that you may not have understood what I said in previous posts. (Though that's not at all surprising because I really didn't say it well.) Let me try again.

    When the person responds That's true, the use of That as opposed to It is deictic. That means that the speaker is referring to the speech of his interlocutor. He's thinking of what his interlocutor said (the utterance) as a thing, to be pointed out.

    This is the key difference between deictic and non-deictic uses, as I understand it. Deictic uses essentially treat utterances as if they were physical objects, whereas non-deictic, anaphoric uses do not. Anaphoric reference is a grammatical relation only, which occurs when two grammatical items are co-referent. That means that the reference of the pronoun it is always and only ever to another grammatical element within the discourse, not to a thing in the world.


    So given that, let me recast your line of thought:

    - To fall asleep is hard for him.
    - That's true.
    -> What's true?
    -> What you just said—your last utterance.

    Do you see what I did? The thing that is true is the utterance itself, not the information content of the utterance. They're not quite the same thing. This is how I understand things, anyway.

    This is really hard to understand. Do you follow? I'll say it one more time:

    When we use this/that, we're referring to our utterances (both written and spoken) as things in the world, much like any other objects. When we use it, we're making reference to a grammatical/logical element of the discourse we're participating in.

    If not, how does this example differ from:
    - Somebody thought it would be a good idea to have the security manager be a Java application so that you didn't have to port to all the different [platforms]"
    - It makes sense. -> What? -> (The idea) to have the security manager ...
    It differs in that it's deictic, unlike the sentence above, which is not.


    Given that my manner of discussing things can be quite tedious, it's a miracle that you are still here with me.
    I guess that means I'm equally tedious.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 27-May-2020 at 18:57.

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    #39

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Do you see what I did? The thing that is true is the utterance itself, not the information content of the utterance.
    I see. Let me ask you, how can an utterance, being considered a physical object, be true or false in principle? It's hard to imagine. In this case it's no more true or false than a table. Can tables be true or false? When evaluating the truth of a statement, we always mean its content, don't we? At least I do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    When we use this/that, we're referring to our utterances (both written and spoken) as things in the world, much like any other objects. When we use it, we're making reference to a grammatical/logical element of the discourse we're participating in.
    I understand this difference, though it seems strange to me as I said above. What is not clear to me is when all three pronouns are possible, and when only 'it' or 'this/that' work. What makes the difference?


    1a)
    A: To fall asleep is hard for him.
    B: This is true/That's true.
    C: What's true?
    B: What A just said—his/her last utterance.

    1b)
    A: To fall asleep is hard for him.
    B: It's true.
    C: What's true?
    B: That to fall asleep is hard for him.

    2a)
    A: To fall asleep is hard for him.
    B: You must be kidding me!

    A: But it's true!
    C: What's true?
    A: That to fall asleep is hard for him.


    2b)
    A: To fall asleep is hard for him.
    B: You must be kidding me!
    A: But this is true!
    C: What's true?
    A: What I just said - my first utterance.


    Questions:
    1) Do all three pronouns work well in (1a-b)? If not, would you explain why?
    2) (2a-b) are very close to my example in #26, which means that 'this' doesn't work in (2b). But why?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I guess that means I'm equally tedious.
    It means that you're a hardy man, or maybe that means you're a hardy man. I don't know what to choose.
    Last edited by Alexey86; 27-May-2020 at 21:45.
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    #40

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    Let me ask you, how can an utterance, being considered a physical object, be true or false in principle? It's hard to imagine. In this case it's no more true or false than a table. Can tables be true or false? When evaluating the truth of a statement, we always mean its content, don't we? At least I do so.

    Understandable objections. You're right, of course—an utterance when considered as a physical object cannot be true or false. But what is true or false is the declarative sentence that is expressed by that utterance. In technical terms, we'd say that the propositional content of a sentence has truth-value. When we say That's true in response to what somebody just said, we're really saying "The propositional content contained within the sentence expressed by your most recent utterance has a positive truth-value."


    I understand this difference, though it seems strange to me as I said above. What is not clear to me is when all three pronouns are possible, and when only 'it' or 'this/that' work. What makes the difference?
    This is what I've been trying to answer. The difference is made by the kind of reference—whether it's deictic or anaphoric.

    1) There are cases where a speaker chooses to use a deictic reference where he could have used a non-deictic one. In these cases, you could ask why he decided to do so.

    2) There are cases where only one or the other works. In cases where a deictic one works and a non-deictic one doesn't work, it is sometimes because the whole point of the speaker's utterance is to make a deictic reference, and not doing so would be inappropriate, and sometimes because the antecedent/postcedent is not given clearly by the grammatical context of the discourse.

    Imagine that we're walking along the beach when I look up and point to a UFO in the sky. Which of the following would I say?:

    What's that?!
    What's it?!


    One of the above is not possible. Why do you think that is?

    1a)
    A: To fall asleep is hard for him.
    B: This is true/That's true.
    C: What's true?
    B: What A just said—his/her last utterance.
    Fine.

    1b)
    A: To fall asleep is hard for him.
    B: It's true.
    C: What's true?
    B: That to fall asleep is hard for him.
    Here, utterance B does not work as a response to utterance A, because it does not refer to speaker A's comment. It refers only to the propositional content expressed by the comment. Although it's not impossible to do that, it would be an odd thing to say, requiring a special context. I imagine utterance B as either existing only in the speaker's mind, as a private reflection on the truth-value of utterance A, or perhaps as a parenthetical aside to a third party, outside of the context of the conversation.

    2a)
    A: To fall asleep is hard for him.
    B: You must be kidding me!

    A: But it's true!
    C: What's true?
    A: That to fall asleep is hard for him.

    Nice. Yes, that works. The comment But it's true! is appropriately non-deictic. It is not referring to the previous comment—only to the truth-value of the comment's propositional content. It would not be possible to use that there, for this reason.

    2b)
    A: To fall asleep is hard for him.
    B: You must be kidding me!
    A: But this is true!
    C: What's true?
    A: What I just said - my first utterance.
    No, that's not possible, for reasons explained above.

    Questions:
    1) Do all three pronouns work well in (1a-b)? If not, would you explain why?
    2) (2a-b) are very close to my example in #26, which means that 'this' doesn't work in (2b). But why?
    I believe I've answered all questions, however badly.


    Last edited by jutfrank; 27-May-2020 at 23:31.

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