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Hello, everyone,

1. “What's that you say?“ (idiomatic expression to mean ‘Have I heard you correctly?’)

2. “What’s that you’re holding?” (used for referring to something that the person you are talking to is holding or wearing, excerpted from Macmillan dictionary)

3. “What's that you were saying earlier?” (excerpt from our local material)

If three sentences above have the same pattern in common, I guess the that above is functioning not as a demonstrative pronoun leading a demonstrative-cleft construction, but a preceding pronoun restricted by a relative ‘which’ clause (with the objective ‘which’ omitted). If so, I wonder how the demonstrative pronoun ‘that’ could be restricted by a relative ‘which’. Is this case similar to the exceptional usage of ‘those who’ in “Those who saw the performance thought it memorable.”?

I would appreciate it if you kindly explain the function of three ‘that’ above, especially the ‘that’ in 3.

Comments  
deepcosmosI guess the that above is functioning not as a demonstrative pronoun

Right. It's a garden variety pronoun, the one you see in "What is that?" Look at "Who is she?" Same thing.

deepcosmosIs this case similar to the exceptional usage of ‘those who’ in “Those who saw the performance thought it memorable.”?

I see nothing exceptional. "Those" is another plain pronoun. You aren't seeing "those who". "Who" could just as well be "that", and "those" could be "they": “They that saw the performance thought it memorable.” Look at "We who saw …."

Hi, Anon, appreciate yours.

anonymousRight. It's a garden variety pronoun, the one you see in "What is that?" Look at "Who is she?" Same thing.

Noted with thanks.

anonymousdeepcosmosIs this case similar to the exceptional usage of ‘those who’ in “Those who saw the performance thought it memorable.”?
I see nothing exceptional. "Those" is another plain pronoun. You aren't seeing "those who". "Who" could just as well be "that", and "those" could be "they": “They that saw the performance thought it memorable.” Look at "We who saw …."

The point of my inquiry is how the clause 'you were saying earlier' is joined to the 'that'(demonstrative pronoun) in “What's that you were saying earlier?” I would appreciate it if you explain your parsing way about the structure of this underlined part.

By the way, I parse that "What was that(=not only a demonstrative pronoun but also an antecedent) [(which) you were saying earlier=a relative clause with an objective pronoun - 'which' omitted]?“

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deepcosmosI would appreciate it if you explain your parsing way about the structure of this underlined part.

You seem to think that "that" is intrinsically a demonstrative pronoun. I don't. For me, "that" is a plain pronoun like "he" or "someone" that has come to be used in various other ways. Your parsing is correct except that "that" is not demonstrative there, or at least it has no antecedent. If you insist on demonstrative, you could throw in an antecedent like "What was that thing you were saying earlier?" Some people dodge the issue by calling it a determiner in that case.

You could add an extra one which would be relative: "What's that that you were saying earlier?” This is the core grammar of it and the intended meaning. Of course, English grammar is descriptive, and such niggly analysis will often get me (strike that) you in trouble.

anonymousYou seem to think that "that" is intrinsically a demonstrative pronoun. I don't. For me, "that" is a plain pronoun like "he" or "someone" that has come to be used in various other ways. Your parsing is correct except that "that" is not demonstrative there, or at least it has no antecedent. If you insist on demonstrative, you could throw in an antecedent like "What was that thing you were saying earlier?" Some people dodge the issue by calling it a determiner in that case.

Hi, Anon, much appreciate yours.

anonymousYou could add an extra one which would be relative: "What's that that you were saying earlier?” This is the core grammar of it and the intended meaning. Of course, English grammar is descriptive, and such niggly analysis will often get me (strike that) you in trouble.

1. Then, am I plausible to consider either of following two;

1) "What was that(=a plain pronoun also an antecedent) [(which) you were saying earlier=a relative clause with 'which' omitted)

2) "What was that(=a plain pronoun also an antecedent) [(that) you were saying earlier=a relative clause with 'that' omitted)

In 2) I guess using consecutively two 'that's are reluctant to natives.

By the way Anon, do you speak British English, don't you?