0

I'm interested in whether what in (1) is interpreted uniformly. Presumably, what in (1a) refers to kinds rather than individuals: it's related to there's such (kinds of) things in Boston--not to e.g. there's an old friend of mine living on 42nd St in Boston. Hence, its answer is about the number of subspecies, not the number of individual birds. I'm not so sure about (1b). Clearly, (1c) is a perfectly sensible question about individuals, but if (1b) is a question about kinds, it should sound awkward--the box is not classified by the things in its interior in the manner Boston is by the landmarks within its confines.

(1a) What is there in Boston? Well, there are two little bluebirds with an orange chest

(1b) What is there in the box? There are two little bluebirds with an orange chest

(1c) What is in the box? There are two little bluebirds with an orange chest

Taking that into account, do the sentences in (2-4) sound natural under any sensible interpretation?

(2a) What there is in that box is two little bluebirds with an orange chest

(2b) What is in Texas City is two little bluebirds with an orange chest

(3a) I'm surprised there's such a cute kitten on the table!

(3b) I'm surprised such a cute kitten's on the table!

(4a) You won't believe what a cute kitten there was on the table!

(4b) You won't believe what a cute kitten was on the table!

1
  • Your answer to 1a seems weird. I would answer it with things like Boston Common, TD Garden, the Massachusetts State House. These are still individual things, not kinds, but they're things that are uniquely associated with Boston.
    – Barmar
    Mar 4 at 0:42

0

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.