Re: [OT] Spanish grammar (was Re: [q] Typesetting rules in Spanish)

From: Patrick Andries (
Date: Mon Sep 09 2002 - 01:57:40 EDT

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Subject: Re: [OT] Spanish grammar (was Re: [q] Typesetting rules in Spanish)

> On 09/07/2002 09:38:31 AM John Cowan wrote:
> >> It's completely different, but I'm reminded of the yes-no question
> >> construction used in at least some parts of Québec whereby (e.g.)
> Jacques
> >> can knock on the door and say to Yves who answered, "Michelle est-tu
> là?"

> Ah, but it's not a personal pronoun (note "est-tu" not "es-tu" -- though
> the spelling is my analysis; I've never seen it written).

This is also found in standard French, but in a very familiar or regional
register :

Familiar : I' dit ça. He says that.

Regional (use to caricature peasants) : V'là t'i pas la Marie !? Isn't this
Mary (coming) !? Word for word : There is <euphonic t> (see «a-t-il») not
the Mary (adding « the » to a given name is regional or more friendly).

The « i » is simply the old (and regional) pronounciation of the impersonal
pronoun « il » (there/it). Modern French has a tendency to pronounce some
of the consonants that have been silent for very long (persi(l), dom(p)teur,
scul(p)teur, I even heard last week sourci(l), found it strange). This is
common phenomenon in many languages and may be linked to more widespread
alphabetisation. In the case of « il », the « l » was absent in the
Classical age (the plural form « ils ont » was pronounced among the elite of
the XVIIth century «izon»), the school system spread the current
pronouciation « ilzon ».

So the Quebec « tu » » (frowned upon) is simply a variant of the familiar
and common « ti » (t-i') interrogative particle used even in France.

> To take another
> example, if I understand the usage (from the explanation I got after
> inquiring when I heard it in use), I think one ought to be able to ask
> something like "Le lait est-tu froid?"

Yes. Le lait est-tu froid ? Le lait est-i' froid ? Le lait est-il froid ?

P. A.

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