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Relative pronouns - that and who

 
 
JTT
 
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 12:25 pm
What's the status of the relative pronouns that and who?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 4,844 • Replies: 89
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djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 12:28 pm
@JTT,
wow, i didn't even know they were related, are they blood relatives or marriage?
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 12:31 pm
@djjd62,
I'd say blood, djjd62, 'cause of their etymological connections.
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 01:01 pm
"Who" refers to a person.

"That" refers to a group or to a thing.
djjd62
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 01:10 pm
@JTT,
language can be highly incestuous, so it could be both
0 Replies
 
rabel22
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 01:31 pm
@Frank Apisa,
On a previous post you insinuated that proper grammar showed superior intelligence. Do you believe this? Or do you read a post and infer from the wording that even though someone dosent spell or do grammar very well still express an intelligent post.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 01:47 pm
@rabel22,
Rabel

I think a person can be intelligent...and post amazingly ungrammatical comments. I feel I am an intelligent person…and I have posted comments that contained misspellings and grammatical errors.

Not only that, but I have read very intelligent comments (excellent insights) made by people who obviously were not experienced writers and/or who probably had marginal education.

I try to stay away from those kinds of judgments.

The reason for what I said over in the other thread had primarily to do with the fact that one of the participants was calling me ignorant and stupid...and he was doing so in postings filled (in my opinion, we are sorting some of that out here) with grammatical errors.

Post grammatically or not...who cares! It may reflect on intelligence…but it is not a determinant.

But if you are going to call someone else stupid and ignorant...you really should do it in an intelligent, grammatically correct way"or you open yourself up to the kind of return fire I delivered there.


Letty
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 02:58 pm
@JTT,
You can use either who or that to refer to people, JTT. Grammar is soooooo boring. Usage is another animal altogether.
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 03:04 pm
@rabel22,

I read last week that Winston Churchill was dyslexic, and wrote with poor spelling and punctuation.
Yet he is one of the major authors of the modern era, and clearly not unintelligent.
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 03:05 pm
@JTT,

Why do you want to know?
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 03:10 pm
@Letty,
You can use anything you want, Letty. You can misspell every word and violate every accepted rule of grammar.

We are not talking about what you can or cannot do. We are talking about what grammarians normally refer to as, “correct grammar.”

The rules of grammar are made to be broken. Some of the most famous literary works would not pass grammatical muster. Put Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address through Word for correction…and see what ya get!

But if you are discussing what accepted or preferred grammatical constructs are…you gotta go with that.

I explained above why the discussion occurred. It was an appropriate comment on my part, and I’m happy we can all get together here to discuss it. (almost wrote “and discuss it!)
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 03:51 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Frank, I'm not being picky, but language's sole purpose is to communicate. On that point I totally agree (one may split an infinitive, too),but we need to agree on the function of grammar as opposed to usage. In English, the structure of a sentence is simple. Subject plus predicate is the simpliest form. Usage, on the other hand, is what is acceptable in the area in which you find yourself.

for example, you wouldn't say, "He ain't got none". That's usage. I know that you and I agree on that much.
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 04:02 pm
@Letty,
We agree on a hell of a lot more than that, Letty. I love ya.

Just wanted to teach a guy who was calling me an ignoramus a lesson! That's all.

And then I thought it might be an interesting discussion.

Rules of grammar...like rules of etiquette...really gotta be took with a grains of salt!

If ya get my drift!
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 04:22 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Oh, I didn't realize that it was an object lesson, Frank. Yes, indeed I get your drift. Love you, too.

Just glad it ain't no snow drift. Razz
0 Replies
 
Miklos7
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 05:11 pm
@Letty,
Letty, I live in a part of the country where usage is extremely flexible. Plenty of people I know use phrases like "He ain't got none." And, quite probably, if I, who was for 30 years and English teacher, said "He ain't got none," no one would blink. I like high-tolerance areas. What would Wittgenstein say about the meaning of "He ain't got none"? I THINK he'd would have said the meaning was clear, despite double negative.
When I was in fourth grade, and my teacher, Mr. Spicer, was showing us how to diagram sentences, he insisted that "who" was used in relative clauses that refer to people and that "that" was used in relative clauses referring to everything else. I used to rock his world by using "who" in reference to animals, because we people are merely fancy animals.
I agree with you that grammar arguments are usually boring--unless you're working on a problem in logic or drafting a treaty.
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 05:27 pm
@Miklos7,
Miklos7, I often have noted that usage is a social thing. If one is going to live in an area where no one cares what they say or how they say it, then someone who makes a big deal out of being proper would be regarded as "stuffy". The idea is to KNOW what is correct, then write or talk as you please, depending on the social order. Your last line is duly noted.

I, too, was an English teacher. I finally decided that the best way to grade a paper was holistically.

At the beginning of each new school year, I would ask the students:"What would you like to learn?" Strangely, around 90% of them would say grammar.

I'm a lousy speller, incidentally.

Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 05:42 pm
Frank is polarized to the point where some of his substance has transgressed into the fourth state of matter.

Rather a triple pun for those with physics / philosophic backgrounds and some knowledge of his prior postings.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 06:14 pm
@McTag,
Quote:
Why do you want to know?


Hello McTag. Long time no see.

A couple of issues came up in another thread,

http://able2know.org/topic/128025-3#post-3538017

and Frank graciously asked if I would start a thread/s to discuss them.

You're smack dab in the middle of one and I note your name on t'other.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 06:31 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
You can use anything you want, Letty. You can misspell every word and violate every accepted rule of grammar.

We are not talking about what you can or cannot do. We are talking about what grammarians normally refer to as, “correct grammar.”


Let's dispense with the spelling/writing aspects for now as they aren't part of natural language.

Actually, you'd find it exceedingly difficult to violate every accepted rule of grammar, Frank, because those rules are deeply engrained in your mental grammar.

Now let's establish at the outset just what a grammar rule is. It is not a prescription and this idea that that can't be used for people is a prescription. Prescriptions are not part of the natural rules of language; they are/were made up notions of what some thought the language should be.

Prescriptions can be become deeply engrained but not within our mental grammars. Why?

Quote:

The contradiction begins in the fact that the words "rule" and "grammar" have very different meanings to a scientist and to a layperson. The rules people learn (or more likely, fail to learn) in school are called [prescriptive] rules, prescribing how one "ought" to talk. Scientists studying language propose [descriptive] rules, describing how people [do] talk -- the way to determine whether a construction is "grammatical" is to find people who speak the language and ask them. Prescriptive and descriptive grammar are completely different things, and there is a good reason that scientists focus on the descriptive rules.

...

Most of the prescriptive rules of the language mavens make no sense on any level. They are bits of folklore that originated for screwball reasons several hundred years ago and have perpetuated themselves ever since. For as long as they have existed, speakers have flouted them, spawning identical plaints about the imminent decline of the language century after century. All the best writers in English have been among the flagrant flouters. The rules conform neither to logic nor tradition, and if they were ever followed they would force writers into fuzzy, clumsy, wordy, ambiguous, incomprehensible prose, in which certain thoughts are not expressible at all. Indeed, most of the "ignorant errors" these rules are supposed to correct display an elegant logic and an acute sensitivity to the grammatical texture of the language, to which the mavens are oblivious.


You can, if you so choose, Frank, to read the rest of the article. It's fairly long but it is one of the best analysis of what real grammar is.

http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/articles/media/1994_01_24_thenewrepublic.html


0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 06:38 pm
@Letty,
Quote:
You can use either who or that to refer to people, JTT. Grammar is soooooo boring. Usage is another animal altogether.


Thanks, Letty, I was aware of that.

Grammar is amazingly interesting, Letty, when you discuss real grammar. When the discussion is about prescriptions, well, it's like an old grammar school class, boring. But that's simply because a discussion of fictions is pointless.

Grammar and usage are irrevocably intertwined. We adjust our grammatical patterns to create different uses, different registers, different nuances. That's really interesting.
0 Replies
 
 

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