odd relative, a nd more

Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Sat Dec 10 17:27:27 UTC 2005

Hmmmm. I find Ron's example neither Southern nor restricted to
[+human] direct objects. Michiganders are full of stuff like "I had
to go to school really early yesterday, which it annoyed me a lot to
have to do." They seem particularly susceptible to this when they are
in a "high style" mode.


>In a message dated 12/10/05 10:03:18 AM, wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM writes:
>>  Sorry to say that the use of "which" to refer to human beings is indeed
>>  English - the dreaded English of Tomorrow.
>>    I have seen countless exx. of "which" for "who" since I began grading
>>  freshman themes in 1976.  The majority of students at all levels
>>prefer "that,"
>>  however.  Of equal interest, perhaps, is that they almost *never*
>>use "who" in
>>  relative constructions.
>>    A very, very few also use "which's" and "that's" for "whose,"  even when
>>  referring to people.  I can't say that I've ever noticed these forms in
>>  speech, though.
>>    JL
>Perhaps "which" seems safer because it avoids the "who/whom" distinction but
>sounds tonier than "that"?
>There is also the Southern (only?) practice--common in speech--of using
>"which" as a sort of coordinating conjunction when the preceding
>independent clause
>contains a [+human] direct object ("I don't really like my boyfriend's
>mother, which I am always trying to find excuses not to go o her
>house with him").
>Arnold's example, though, is certainly not Southern, and to be a coordinating
>conjunction the sentence would have to read, "... seeking HIV-negative men,
>ages 18-45, which THEY have been a top or bottom in the past six months. ..."

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
15-C Morrill Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1036
Phone: (517) 353-4736
Fax: (517) 353-3755
preston at msu.edu

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