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Why is what is a certain type of part of speech as used here?

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    The embedded question clause what you wish begins with the Wh-word what; it is the object of wish, but moved to the beginning by question formation. You can call it any part of speech you like - pronoun and complementizer are common choices. Dec 14, 2022 at 15:37
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    @John Lawler Pronouns of the Season. Dec 14, 2022 at 15:58
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    Complementizer is not a part of speech but a function. "What you wish" is not an embedded question but a noun phrase in a fused relative construction where "what" is a pronoun. This kind of fused relative is called the 'free choice' construction because it's for you to decide what you wish to give me. Note, though, that "whatever" would be the usual pronoun. The meaning is "Give me anything that you wish (to give me)"
    – BillJ
    Dec 14, 2022 at 16:37

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In a comment BillJ wrote:

Complementizer is not a part of speech but a function. "What you wish" is not an embedded question but a noun phrase in a fused relative construction where "what" is a pronoun. This kind of fused relative is called the 'free choice' construction because it's for you to decide what you wish to give me. Note, though, that "whatever" would be the usual pronoun. The meaning is "Give me anything that you wish (to give me)"

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In a comment John Lawler wrote:

The embedded question clause what you wish begins with the Wh-word what; it is the object of wish, but moved to the beginning by question formation. You can call it any part of speech you like - pronoun and complementizer are common choices.

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  • @John Lawler Could you possibly give an estimate of what percentage of people who would pronounce on the issue would choose 'pronoun' and how many 'complementizer', please, John? Dec 17, 2022 at 12:29

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