LINGUIST List 3.944

Tue 01 Dec 1992

Sum: Nonstandard "which"

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  1. mai kuha, Summary of nonstandard use of "which" poll

Message 1: Summary of nonstandard use of "which" poll

Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1992 08:57:00 Summary of nonstandard use of "which" poll
From: mai kuha <>
Subject: Summary of nonstandard use of "which" poll

A couple of weeks ago I asked for feedback on the grammaticality of
sentences such as

"There are usually more handwritten assignments to prepare you for the
exit exam, which you can't bring the computer for that."

"When I went over there, they were clowning around, which I didn't
really care, until I found out they had lost my file."

"The Reagan Democrats, which I used to be one, [didn't do

I received 23 responses, which included a variety of ideas, references,
and suggestions. Australia, Canada, South Africa, the UK, and the US
were represented in our surveyette. Many thanks to all!

The responses were very varied, but I'll try to summarize them here.

The sentences were somewhat grammatical in the dialects of 2 people, and
were rated ungrammatical by 16 people.

7 people had never heard this construction, while 8 had noticed it. Of
these, 2 reported hearing it from all kinds of speakers, while 4 thought
users would probably be uneducated.

There seemed to be no geographic pattern: both kinds of responses were
received from each country mentioned above (except Canada, which was
unanimously anti-which).

Please e-mail me if you need more detailed information on the responses.
I think we're only scratching the surface here!

Incidentally, since my first posting I've also heard something similar
done with WHERE:

"I've also included a trigger, where a trigger is gonna be a little
marker [...]."

Mai Kuha (
Indiana University, Bloomington
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