Zero vs. "that" relatives

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Dec 29 18:53:28 UTC 2008

On Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 1:23 PM, Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at> wrote:
> > but the levels of "that" were low in the 1920s-1940s (lower than in
> > the 2000s, in fact).  is there any reason to think that prescriptive
> > pressure increased in the 1950s-1970s?
> >
> > here it would be nice to have data from a source other than Time, to
> > find out whether the change was the result of changing editorial
> > practices at the magazine.

My feelings exactly. It might be hard to extrapolate the Time data to
journalistic usage more generally, since the magazine has been so
stylistically idiosyncratic over the years. Most notorious is their
"inverted syntax," which was finally phased out in 2007:

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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