=?UNKNOWN?Q?=A0_=A0_=A0?= Re: odd relative, and more

Paul Johnston paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Sat Dec 10 17:31:17 UTC 2005

It's not only the English of Tomorrow, it's also the English of
Yesterday--cf. the King James Version's "Our Father, which art in heaven..."
where the Deity is certainly to be looked at as personified.  Perfectly good
Early Modern English, so my guess is it's a low-frequency variant that has
hung on (or been recreated).  It's interesting because its  presence raises
all kinds of questions about seeming reversals of linguistic change, the
randomness of variation, the status of low-frequency variants, "linguistic
recycling", which is well attested for vocabulary, but less for other areas.

Paul Johnston
----- Original Message -----
From: <RonButters at AOL.COM>
Sent: Saturday, December 10, 2005 10:29 AM
Subject: Re:       Re: odd relative, and more

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       RonButters at AOL.COM
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> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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
> > English - the dreaded English of Tomorrow.
> >=20
> > =A0 I have seen countless exx. of "which" for "who" since I began
> > freshman themes in 1976.=A0 The majority of students at all levels
> "that,"=20
> > however.=A0 Of equal interest, perhaps, is that they almost *never* use
> ho" in=20
> > relative constructions.
> >=20
> > =A0 A very, very few also use "which's" and "that's" for "whose,"=A0
> when=20
> > referring to people.=A0 I can't say that I've ever noticed these forms
> > speech, though.
> >=20
> > =A0 JL
> >=20
> Perhaps "which" seems safer because it avoids the "who/whom" distinction
> =20
> sounds tonier than "that"?
> There is also the Southern (only?) practice--common in speech--of using=20
> "which" as a sort of coordinating conjunction when the preceding
>  clause=20
> contains a [+human] direct object ("I don't really like my boyfriend's=20
> mother, which I am always trying to find excuses not to go o her house
> him").=20
> Arnold's example, though, is certainly not Southern, and to be a
> g=20
> conjunction the sentence would have to read, "... seeking HIV-negative
> ages 18-45, which THEY have been a top or bottom in the past six months.
> "

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