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Eric Christopherson wrote:
 > How does "whoever" fit into this? To me it sounds perfectly
grammatical to
 > say "Whoever knows his own father is a wise child" (although I must admit
 > that it seems a bit odd semantically, since it would imply that
adults who
 > know their own fathers are wise children).

Indeed.  The true underlying structure of "It's a wise child..."
is "a child who knows his own father is a wise child".

I don't know why there is a difference between "who" and "whoever".

--
There is / one art             || John Cowan <[log in to unmask]>
no more / no less              || http://www.reutershealth.com
to do / all things             || http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
with art- / lessness           \\ -- Piet Hein

 >> >> clauses.  In English, a light relative clause can hold the
 >> subject slot:
 >>
 >> Who does not work, does not eat.
 >>
 >> But a heavier relative clause needs to go to the end, with a dummy "it"
 >>  inserted in the apparent subject slot:
 >>
 >> It is a wise child who knows his own father.
 >>
 >> which would sound bizarre as:
 >>
 >> *Who knows his own father is a wise child.
 >
 >
 > How does "whoever" fit into this? To me it sounds perfectly
 > grammatical to say "Whoever knows his own father is a wise child"
 > (although I must admit that it seems a bit odd semantically, since
 > it would imply that adults who know their own fathers are wise
 > children).
 >
 > -- Eric Christopherson / *Aiworegs Ghristobhorosyo


--
There is / one art             || John Cowan <[log in to unmask]>
no more / no less              || http://www.reutershealth.com
to do / all things             || http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
with art- / lessness           \\ -- Piet Hein