There is nothing more I can ask for.

Phaedrus

Key Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Re: Nothing is nothing more that I can ask for.

That's one assertion without anything to support it.
I know of two arguments to support the idea that the word that in relative clauses introduced by that is not a relative pronoun. The first is a point I made in Post #15: Pied Piping (i.e., the fronting of a preposition and the relative pronoun functioning as its complement in a relative clause in which the relativized element is the object of a preposition) does not work with that. Pied Piping alternates with Preposition Stranding.

That is the cupboard which I put the glass in.
That is the cupboard that I put the glass in.

That is the cupboard in which I put the glass
.
*
[strike]That is the cupboard in that I put the glass[/strike].

The second is a historical argument. It used to be that that could co-occur with wh-forms in relative clauses and embedded questions. In the King James Bible, we can see that co-occurring with wh-forms in embedded questions (". . . for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread" [Ruth 1:6]) and with what traditional grammar calls subordinating conjunctions (". . . in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statues, and my laws" [Gen. 26: 5]). For examples from earlier English, I draw from Elisabeth Traugott:

"All three relatives occur in ME with the subordinate that. In fact, whom that, whose that are commoner than whom, whose in the early part of the period when the wh-forms first come into use, presumably because the wh-forms were not felt to be full-fledged subordinators:

4.118 PL V.231.25 (1475?) he hathe seyd that he woold lyfte them whom that hym plese ('whom it may please him to raise').

. . . Wh- that relative forms no longer occur in Shakespearean English although only two centuries earlier they had still been very common, especially which that, as in:

4.119 Ch. Mel. B.2157 bigat upon his wyf, that called was Prudence, a doghter which that called was Sophie.

- Traugott, Elisabeth Closs. The History of English Syntax: A Transformational Approach to the History of English Sentence Structure. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.: New York, 1972.
 
Last edited:

5jj

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
Czech Republic
Current Location
Czech Republic
Re: Nothing is nothing more that I can ask for.

I know of two arguments to support the idea that the word that in relative clauses introduced by that is not a relative pronoun. The first is a point I made in Post #15: Pied Piping (i.e., the fronting of a preposition and the relative pronoun functioning as its complement in a relative clause in which the relativized element is the object of a preposition) does not work with that. Pied Piping alternates with Preposition Stranding.

That is certainly an argument for saying that that is in a different sub-class of relative pronouns from who and which. Only if one invents a 'rule' that pied piping is an essential characteristic of relative pronouns does this show that that is not a relative pronoun.

If the unacceptability of *That is the cupboard in that I put the glass banishes that from the class of relative pronouns, why does the unacceptability of *Here is a knife which to cut the bread with not similarly banish which?

Similarly the absence in most dialects of genitive that's as an equivalent to whose does not in itself exclude that from the class of relative pronouns. There is, after all, no which's.


The second is a historical argument. It used to be that that could co-occur with wh-forms in relative clauses and embedded questions. In the King James Bible, we can see that co-occurring with wh-forms in embedded questions [ . . ] and with what traditional grammar calls subordinating conjunctions [. . .]
i really don't think that what was true of English four and more hundred years ago can influence how we assign words to word classes today.

So, I am not convinced by some of the arguments for claiming that that is not a relative pronoun. I am even less convinced that it is the same class of words as that in I know that he is ill.
 

TheParser

VIP Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2009
Member Type
Other
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Re: Nothing is nothing more that I can ask for.

NOT A TEACHER


1. What little grammar I know is restricted to twentieth-century secondary school grammars.

2. I am delighted to share this explanation that I have accepted.

a. "That" in "I know that he speaks the truth," for example, is usually classed as a conjunction. But in reality, it is an expletive (that is to say, a mere function word).

b. Its sole function is to introduce the noun clause.

c. Originally, "that" was a stressed demonstrative and the noun clause was in apposition with it: "I know that (He speaks the truth)."


Source: House and Harman, Descriptive English Grammar (1931), page 193.
 

Phaedrus

Key Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Re: Nothing is nothing more that I can ask for.

That is certainly an argument for saying that that is in a different sub-class of relative pronouns from who and which. Only if one invents a 'rule' that pied piping is an essential characteristic of relative pronouns does this show that that is not a relative pronoun.

The best I can do is to say that, in mainstream generative syntax as taught in the U.S., Pied Piping involves movement of the entire PP into the Specifier of the relative clause. The structure of a noun phrase like the cupboard [in which] I put the glass derives from the cupboard [strike]that[/strike] I put the glass [in which].

The mechanism of Wh-Movement effects the structural change. The "features" of the relative pronoun "percolate" up to the PP, so that the relative pronoun (which)
"pied-pipes" the preposition. Oh, boy, how quickly all this moves away from traditional grammar and the ESL classroom!

If the unacceptability of *That is the cupboard in that I put the glass banishes that from the class of relative pronouns, why does the unacceptability of *Here is a knife which to cut the bread with not similarly banish which?
Nice point. :)

Tangent: Of course, we can have Here is a knife with which to cut the bread. In infinitival relative clauses, the deleted complementizer (when it is not present) is for, not that. We see the complementizer when the infinitival relative has an overt subject: Here is a knife for Phaedrus to cut the bread with. Interestingly, however, Pied Piping does not work in such examples, either. We can't say: *[strike]Here is a knife with which for Phaedrus to cut the bread[/strike]. That actually is a strong point with which to counter anybody under the illusion that preposition stranding is bad: sometimes there is no other option.

i really don't think that what was true of English four and more hundred years ago can influence how we assign words to word classes today.
I agree. For what it's worth, Andrew Radford (Minimalist Syntax: Exploring the structure of English; Cambridge, 2004, p. 231) points out that "n some varieties of English, MFCF [i.e., the Multiply Filled COMP of Chomsky and Lasnik, 1977] seems to have a rather different form, permitting wh+that clauses like that bracketed in (124a) below, but not those like that bracketed in (124b)":

(124) (a) %I really don't know [what kind of plan that he has in mind].
(124) (b) *I really don't know [what that he has in mind].

Radford also points out that "n its use as a complementizer (in sentences such as [I refuse to believe that Randy Rabbit runs Benny's Bunny Bar]) that typically has the reduced form /ðt /, whereas in its use as a determiner (e.g. in sentences such as [I refuse to believe that rumour]), that invariably has the unreduced form /ðæt/: the phonological differences between the two suggest that we are dealing with two different lexical items here (i.e. two different words), one of which functions as a complementiser and typically has a reduced vowel, the other of which functions as a determiner and always has an unreduced vowel" (p. 54).
 
Last edited:

5jj

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
Czech Republic
Current Location
Czech Republic
Re: Nothing is nothing more that I can ask for.

The best I can do is to say that, in mainstream generative syntax as taught in the U.S., Pied Piping involves movement of the entire PP into the Specifier of the relative clause. The structure of a noun phrase like the cupboard [in which] I put the glass derives from the cupboard [strike]that[/strike] I put the glass [in which].

The mechanism of Wh-Movement effects the structural change. The "features" of the relative pronoun "percolate" up to the PP, so that the relative pronoun (which) 'pied-pipes" the preposition.

It does seem to me that the subordinator claims for that involve some dodgy derivation and a fair amount of percolation and anaphoric gaps (Huddleston and Pullum)/implicit relativized elemensts (Aarts).

Oh, boy, how quickly all this moves away from traditional grammar and the ESL classroom!
And from Occam and his razor.

Relative that was (and still is, by many) considered a pronoun because it has rather more features in common with, for example, the relative pronoun which than it has with subordinating that in He admitted that I was right. The attempt to shoehorn relative that into the subordinator (or complementizer) class requires too much special pleading for me.

Radford also points out that "n its use as a complementizer (in sentences such as [I refuse to believe that Randy Rabbit runs Benny's Bunny Bar]) that typically has the reduced form /ðt /, whereas in its use as a determiner (e.g. in sentences such as [I refuse to believe that rumour]), that invariably has the unreduced form /ðæt/: the phonological differences between the two suggest that we are dealing with two different lexical items here (i.e. two different words), one of which functions as a complementiser and typically has a reduced vowel, the other of which functions as a determiner and always has an unreduced vowel" (p. 54).


We also have an unreduced vowel in That is my book. I believe that that that has also been banished from the pronoun class - but let's not go there. I think that that that that I have just mentioned is a step too far for this thread.

I have enjoyed this discussion, but if it continues I fear that I will just repeat myself even more. We Luddites are stubborn.
 

probus

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 7, 2011
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
Canada
Current Location
Canada
Re: Nothing is nothing more that I can ask for.

I think that that that that ...

Wow. Four thats in a row. Amazing. :)
 

5jj

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
Czech Republic
Current Location
Czech Republic
Re: Nothing is nothing more that I can ask for.

I had to work on that 'that that that that'. I'm glad you appreciated it.
 

Phaedrus

Key Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Re: Nothing is nothing more that I can ask for.

Relative that was (and still is, by many) considered a pronoun because it has rather more features in common with, for example, the relative pronoun which than it has with subordinating that in He admitted that I was right.

I wonder if it's relevant to the question whether that is a relative pronoun that that works well after the noun way in a certain type of relative clause in which which seems totally ungrammatical:

I like the way that the author puts the point.
*I like the way which the author puts the point.

He hates the way that it tastes.
*He hates the way which it tastes.
 

5jj

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
Czech Republic
Current Location
Czech Republic
Re: Nothing is nothing more that I can ask for.

I wonder if it's relevant to the question whether that is a relative pronoun that that works well after the noun way in a certain type of relative clause in which which seems totally ungrammatical

That is another argument for saying , as I did in post 22, that that is in a different sub-class of relative pronouns from who and which.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Phaedrus

Key Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Re: Nothing is nothing more that I can ask for.

That is another argument for saying , as I did in post 22, that that is in a different sub-class of relative pronouns from who and which.

My feeling is that the noun way, at least in the type usage exhibited in the examples in post 28 (it is obviously OK to say things like We didn't take the way which they took), is modified by relative clauses where the relativized element either is, or is the equivalent of, a relative adverb rather than a relative pronoun.

Notice that I like the way (that) the author puts the point means the same thing as I like how the author puts the point, and He hates the way (that) it tastes means the same thing as He hates how it tastes. Analogously, a sentence like Is that the place (where/that) we went? can be replaced by Is that where we went?

Another analogy is the time when. A sentence like Do you remember the time we discussed pronouns? can be replaced by Do you remember the time that/when we discussed pronouns? and Do you remember when we discussed pronouns?, but not by *[strike]Do you remember the time which we discussed pronouns?[/strike]

It would appear that that, in that-relatives, is indifferent to whether the relativized element is a relative adverb or a relative pronoun. Therefore, if we say that that can function as a relative pronoun in that-relatives substitutable by which- or who(m)-relatives, mustn't we say that that can be a relative adverb in the other cases?

But if that can be either a relative pronoun or a relative adverb in relative clauses, why is there never any ambiguity as to its pronominal or adverbial status? It might be simpler to swallow the generative pill and say that the relative pronoun or relative adverb gets silenced in relative clauses introduced by that.

Phaedrus

P.S. It appears that, historically, at least some educated people used the way how in relative clauses:

"For I think it will not be doubted, that men always performed the actions of thinking, reasoning, believing, and knowing, just after the same manner that they do now; though whether the same account has heretofore been given of the way how they performed these actions, or wherein they consisted, I do not know."

- John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1695)
 

sitifan

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2006
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
Taiwan
Current Location
Taiwan
Re: Nothing is nothing more that I can ask for.

I like the way that the author puts the point.
*I like the way which the author puts the point.

He hates the way that it tastes.
*He hates the way which it tastes.
1. I like the way in which the author puts the point.
2. He hates the way in which it tastes.

Are the above sentences acceptable to native speakers?
 

5jj

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
Czech Republic
Current Location
Czech Republic
Re: Nothing is nothing more that I can ask for.

1. I like the way in which the author puts the point.
2. He hates the way in which it tastes.

Are the above sentences acceptable to native speakers?
(1) doesn't sound very natural to me.
(2) is wrong.
 

sitifan

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2006
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
Taiwan
Current Location
Taiwan
Re: Nothing is nothing more that I can ask for.

(1) doesn't sound very natural to me.
(2) is wrong.
3. I like how the author puts the point.
4. He hates how it tastes.
Are the above sentences acceptable to native speakers?
 

jutfrank

VIP Member
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
England
Current Location
England
Re: Nothing is nothing more that I can ask for.

3. I like how the author puts the point.
4. He hates how it tastes.
Are the above sentences acceptable to native speakers?

Yes, those are okay.
 
Top