LINGUIST List 16.80

Thu Jan 13 2005

Qs: Use of 'what it is is'; Latin Pronunciation

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        1.    Emma Pavey, Use of 'what it is is'
        2.    Clayton Graham, Latin used in the movie

Message 1: Use of 'what it is is'

Date: 07-Jan-2005
From: Emma Pavey <>
Subject: Use of 'what it is is'

I'm interested in the use of 'what it is is? (and variations) as a fixed
 expression used as a discourse marker/floor-holding device, as in the
 following examples.
 (1) Q: Tell me about the women's group that you've started. 
      A: I just started a group on campus when I got back from Italy. Right
 now it's called the Women's Group. Basically what it is, is I was tired of
 the things that happen to women being shushed.
 (2) S: ... isn't the Bush policy a continuation of the Clinton
 administration's policy vis- a-vis Iraq? 
      B: No, what it is is it's jacking it up on steroids and taking us into
 a war that I think we can win without putting our troops in harm's way.
 I?m also hearing single ?is? versions (in the south-east of England) such
 as (3)
 (3) What it is, I changed my migraine medication.
 It seems to me there must be some type of mutual influence/sanctioning
 between these (1-3) and ?double copula? constructions (and possibly their
 single ?is? counterparts) ?The thing/problem is (is)? etc. which have been
 discussed before on this list.
 I?m particularly interested to know if the use in examples such as in (1-3)
 occur in other varieties of English, particular new Englishes, and to know
 of any studies on this particular use.
 Thanks; I will post a summary
 Emma Pavey
 Dr Emma Pavey 
 Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis
 Subject Language(s): English (ENG)

Message 2: Latin used in the movie

Date: 10-Jan-2005
From: Clayton Graham <>
Subject: Latin used in the movie

Just saw the 'Passion of Christ' movie and it seems like the latin used in
the movie was of the ecclesiatical variety.  I don't know much about the
latin spoken during the time of Christ but I am dying to know whether in
those times romans were really pronouncing the 'v' in words like 'veritas'
as a labiodental fricitive, and the 'c's before a frontal vowel as a
palatal affricate?

If anyone could provide any insight/resources it would be greatly appreciated!

Clayton G. 

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Latin (LTN)
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