LINGUIST List 3.958

Fri 04 Dec 1992

Disc: Nonstandard Which

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Margaret M. Fleck, Nonstandard "which"
  2. "Dennis.Preston", 3.944 Summary: Nonstandard "whic

Message 1: Nonstandard "which"

Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1992 14:21:22 -Nonstandard "which"
From: Margaret M. Fleck <>
Subject: Nonstandard "which"

Mai Kuha quotes the following sentence as a funny use of "where."

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

Using "where" this way is standard mathematics (and perhaps computer
science?) jargon, e.g.

 "f is a continuous map from A to B, where B is any topological space and
 A is a manifold."

 "A manifold is a Hausdorff space which is locally homeomorphic to R^n,
 where a Hausdorff space is ...."

 where, by Hausdorff space, I mean a space ..."

 "A deforms into B, where by "deforms" I mean ...."

In this construction, "where" is used to introduce definitions of
(essentially any set of) terms in the preceding clause. I think the
"place" antecedent of "where" is the preceding clause itself,
considered as a string of words, not anything in its semantic content.
However, I think this is, at best, a historical explanation.

I don't know if this is where your informant got the construction,

Margaret Fleck (
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Message 2: 3.944 Summary: Nonstandard "whic

Date: Tue, 01 Dec 92 22:33 EST
From: "Dennis.Preston" <>
Subject: 3.944 Summary: Nonstandard "whic

I am sorry to be late responding to the
which' query, but since my contribution was bibliographical I was sure someone
else would note it. Apparently not. There is a large collection of these forms
in Jennifer Greene, Which,' in Shuy & Shnukal (eds) Language Use & the Uses of
Language Georgetown Uni. Press, 1980, pp. 143-161, and a good bibliography.
Dennis Preston
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