Sunday, May 14, 2017

"That which"

High time to get rid of this stupid combo. Even in the ranks of the great theologians and philosophers it is barely passable. Just replace it with "what". The English language can be so retarded. I don't know if the equivalent of this retarded insufficiency exists in other languages, like Latin and so forth, but I wouldn't be surprised. We are so limited.


Belfry Bat said...

"Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna/in die illa tremenda/quando Coeli movendi sunt et Terra..."

It's fairly common in French to refer to "celui qui _" or in varied orthography, "ce-lui --" /// would be "that him who" in English.

Of course, in the Latin there is a Type noun already present: it isn't merely "that when", but "that fearful day when the Heavans must be shaken, and the Earth".

"That which other men are fit for, I am qualified in." What noun, I wonder, has been left silent in there; "that [work?] which other men et.c." perhaps... of course, Shakespeare's usage isn't meant to be exemplary but to be typical --- that is, he wants his characters to sound like themselves (sometimes in metre), not us to sound like them...

As with all things, though, it is easily overused and so worn out. Here endeth the ramble.

Paul Stilwell said...

Do ramble. I think I wrote this post just to get a comment out of Bat.

I love Shaky Baby, as my English 11 teacher dubbed him.

For me the really dumb thing is that "that" and "which" are the same. The only difference is that "which" is used after a comma, and "that" is used where there is no comma.

Correct me.

Belfry Bat said...

I get where you're coming from with the "which/what"... they're both noun-seeking interrogatives, but I think there's some small difference in that usually when you ask "which?" you already know the type of the answer, unless you're Preserverd Killick... "What do we need for a picnic" vs. "Which wine goes with this trail-mix?" So [that], when it's used to introduce an indirection, just knowing that there's a specific sort of resolution intended constrains what the sentence means.

To be sure Kent could say "What other men are fit for" intending quite the same effect, though in that case his declaration could also be read "I am an excellent judge of men"; or it might have meant "I may well be fit for hanging". (And this would not in the least diminish the English Professors' fun in parsing him for generations of students!)

Which [reason] is (I think) why.