which we're going to get through this

James Smith jsmithjamessmith at YAHOO.COM
Thu Jun 4 14:11:22 UTC 2009

I've never noticed this use of "which", and have not seen the ad.  Could this be a regional rather than a class marker?

James D. SMITH                 |If history teaches anything
South SLC, UT                  |it is that we will be sued
jsmithjamessmith at yahoo.com     |whether we act quickly and decisively
                               |or slowly and cautiously.

--- On Wed, 6/3/09, Herb Stahlke <hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM> wrote:

> From: Herb Stahlke <hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject: which we're going to get through this
> Date: Wednesday, June 3, 2009, 8:44 PM
> There are a couple of TV ads on
> currently featuring a working-class
> guy telling his family, in one, and his son in the other,
> that he may
> get laid off.  In the family ad he saiys something
> like "We may have
> to postpone some promises, which we're going to get through
> this."
> Those are not the exact words, but the use of "which" is as
> he uses it
> in the ad.  I suspect the usage may be employed by the
> writers as a
> marker of class, and I've heard it before in sentences like
> "We were
> going to go on a picnic Saturday, which it rained."  I
> don't remember
> hearing it used much by college educated speakers.
> The social
> contexts have been working class.
> Wh-indefinite pronouns or question words started to show up
> as
> relative pronouns in the 10th c. under the influence of
> Latin, but
> with the demise of English as a written standard after the
> Norman
> Conquest, the shift disappeared until English once again
> became a more
> widely used written language in the late 13th c.  The
> wh-relatives
> came into literate, educated English between about 1300 and
> 1600, with
> a few changes in usage after that.  The King James
> Version (1611)
> translates the first phrase of the Lord's Prayer as "Our
> father which
> art in heaven," but since about the 18th c. "which" has not
> been used
> to refer to humans.
> The usage of wh-relatives does seem to be related to level
> of
> education, and I wonder if the use of "which" as a sort of
> coordinating conjunction, as above, might be a
> hypercorrection.
> Speakers who don't have the professional class rules
> governing "which"
> know that some people use "which" in ways in which they
> themselves
> don't.  The "which" plus coordinate clause
> construction arises as an
> unsuccessful attempt to emulate those rules.  Treating
> these sentences
> in this way is a WAG.  I've searched the ADS-L
> archives for postings
> dealing with "which," and I found the usual "that" vs.
> "which"
> discussions, quite a few of them in fact, but none dealing
> with the
> coordinating usage.  Does anyone know of scholarship
> that deals with
> this construction?
> Herb
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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