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TorgoX (1933)

TorgoX
  sburkeNO@SPAMcpan.org
http://search.cpan.org/~sburke/

"Il est beau comme la retractilité des serres des oiseaux rapaces [...] et surtout, comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un parapluie !" -- Lautréamont

Journal of TorgoX (1933)

Monday October 07, 2002
05:23 AM

Relativization

[ #8213 ]
Dear Log,

Heard the other day:

"That's one boy that I woulda sued his ass a long time ago, if I was her."

Note that the relative clause is formed with a "that" and an unshifted pronoun (here, "his"), instead of "one boy whose ass...".

I've been hearing more of these "that"+pronoun relativizations lately. I think they used to be used only under circumstances where there's really strange stuff happening already, such as would disfavor normal relativization structures, like "That's the guy down whose street the criminal didn't know he was driving" <=> "That's the guy that [or even "where"] the criminal didn't know he was driving down his street".

This use of "that"+pronoun often sort of grates on me, but I have to admit that it's much tidier that the currently conventional "correct" way of doing very complex relativization. I doubt that it'll ever overtake simple relativization like "Here's a movie that I saw last week". With "that"+pronoun use, you'd expect "Here's a movie that I saw it last week", but I don't think that'll ever be acceptable.

Other thing I hear lately, which I hate in all possible ways, is when relativization of a prepositional object ends up just dropping the preposition. Like: "That's the guy whose street the criminal didn't know he was driving." The "down" is gone, vanished into hyperspace. This displeases me.

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  • "That's the guy whose street the criminal didn't know he was driving."

    That bugs me too. I used to think it came from the artificial rule against ending a sentence with a preposition, and I actually did have a writer give me that explanation for his own omission of "of" in a sentence about "disposing" hazardous materials. But now I find it unlikely that some of the people I've heard dropping prepositions have ever heard of the rule.

  • The most visible buggage in American English is "write your senator", which omits "to". Gnash!

    --Nat

    • That's not a bug -- it's a feature of our dialect. I don't complain about Brits omitting the "to" in "going down the pub" (not sure if Kiwis do that, and it's not perfectly parallel because the "write" usage is less informal).

      Are you equally annoyed by "tell your mother"?
      • I'm not sure that being idiomatic makes it less of a bug. All I know is that it grates on my ears. It's as ungrammatical as "going down the pub", but there's beer involved that one so it's less irritating :-)

        --Nat

        • I guess the question is how you determine what's ungrammatical. If you're not a native speaker of the dialect, you have to be a little careful about such things. There's nothing buggy about it to this American ear.

          When I was copyediting, I wouldn't have blinked at "write your senator". I guess if you're trying for some sort of "international English" that avoids any usage that some English speaker somewhere might object to, then sticking in the "to" would make sense (but you're still not going to be abl