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The English Language

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I think this deserves its very own thread, since it's more than just a Surreal Annoyance. And some of its abuses are so egregious. Or just hilarious. Like this one:   The wife of one of my business

Among those who use the term, "aks" for "ask" is communicatively effective. If you and I decide to use "hello" to mean "goodbye", it will be communicatively effective between us, but I'm not sure that

You don't know that, do you?

I hope Wilfrid reads the entry on "that/which".

Why, do I get that wrong a lot?



No, you get it wrong ALWAYS.


(You don't like using "that".) (I did read somewhere that British usage is looser on this than American.)

I read recently that it may have been Fowler himself who made the distinction in the first place.

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From John McPhee's excellent "Draft No. 4" piece from a few weeks' ago's New Yorker, which I'm just getting around to reading:


It was William Shawn, the editor of The New Yorker for several decades, who first introduced to me "the irregular restrictive which." Mr. Shawn explained that under certain unusual and special circumstances the word "which" could be employed at the head of a restrictive clause. Ordinarily, the conjunction "that" would introduce a restrictive clause. Nonrestrictive: This is a baseball, which is spherical and white. Restrictive: This is the baseball that Babe Ruth hit out of the park after pointing at the fence in Chicago. The first ball is unspecific, and the sentence requires a comma if the writer wishes to digress into its shape and color. The second ball is very specific, and the sentence repels commas. There can be situations, though, wherein words or phrases lie between the specific object and the clause that proves its specificity, and would call for the irregular nonrestrictive which.

I guess the "unusual and special circumstances" include the writer's being born in a suburb of London.

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From the current horror I'm working on (which, btw, is showing me which restaurants and food businesses to avoid):


The decadence and luxury that categorized the Roaring Twenties came to a grinding halt when the calamity of Black Tuesday on Wall Street plummeted the nation into an uncertain future. Harkening an era in stark contrast to the illusory comforts of the 20s, the Great Depression was a time for abrupt adjustment to lifestyle, starting with the kitchen cupboard. Even the most indulgent palettes reeled in expectations of grandeur, and once-decadent dishes were revised with more modest ingredients.
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"There are still some people who try to insist that to use which... in a defining clause is wrong, and that every such clause must have that. There is no justification for this. There are some sentences in which that comes more naturally, others in which it does not."


Gowers, p122.

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The that/which thing is something only Americans worry about. Not having a language of their own makes them overly sensitive about these things.



I always considered ghetto-speak to be uniquely American. Canadians don't talk that way unless they're trying to emulate Americans.


I suppose it's a dialect not a language, however.

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And another. Names deleted to protect a restaurateur and restaurant I very much admire; besides, the idiots authors spelled the name of the restaurant wrong, twice.



At her intimate downtown darling, [RestaurantName], she offers dishes that, in every course, hover somewhere between delectable and phantasmagorical. In an era of dining where restaurant desserts can be dour denouements to avant-garde, creative entrees, [ChefName] defies every cliche, playing the whole menu like a pumped pinch hitter from the national anthem to the bottom of the 9th. Her desserts don’t accent the meal, they immortalize it. In the weeks following dinner at [RestaurantName], it’s likely that you’ll find yourself haunted by a mysterious, primal cuisine that has surreptitiously invaded your subconscious, calling you back like an enchanting siren.
[ChefName] is the author of [book Title], which is required reading for culinary enchantresses everywhere.


So wrong in so many ways.



And no, this is not by Ligaya Mishan.

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