the US conducted a strike on the airfield from which/where the attack took place

  • idialegre

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The two mean different things. "The airfield from which the attack took place" means that planes took off from that airfield and flew somewhere to attack the enemy. "The airfield where the attack took place" means that the airfield itself was attacked.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    The two mean different things. "The airfield from which the attack took place" means that planes took off from that airfield and flew somewhere to attack the enemy. "The airfield where the attack took place" means that the airfield itself was attacked.
    I was asking not about the airfield where the attack took place but about the airfield from where the attack took place.
     

    idialegre

    Senior Member
    USA English
    "From where", to my ear, simply does not sound natural. I think most people would say, "The airfield where the attack came from," and not "...from where the attack came."

    You could also say "the airfield whence the attack came." That's certainly good English, but rather old-fashioned.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    "From where", to my ear, simply does not sound natural. I think most people would say, "The airfield where the attack came from," and not "...from where the attack came."

    You could also say "the airfield whence the attack came." That's certainly good English, but rather old-fashioned.
    The original is "...the attack took place". Why did you change it to "...the attack came"?
     

    idialegre

    Senior Member
    USA English
    "To take place" means "to happen." If airplanes leave from an airfield X, then fly to Point Y and drop bombs, then the attack is coming from X and taking place at Y. We don't say that it "takes place from somewhere."
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    "To take place" means "to happen." If airplanes leave from an airfield X, then fly to Point Y and drop bombs, then the attack is coming from X and taking place at Y. We don't say that it "takes place from somewhere."
    Are you saying Theresa May should have said the airfield from which the attack came instead of the airfield from which the attack took place?
     

    Aguas Claras

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I think a better choice of words would have been, "the airfield from which the attack was launched."
    That may be true but I wouldn't think twice about "from which the attack took place", particularly in spoken English. Even if I read it in a newspaper, I wouldn't find it odd.

    Regarding the original question, I agree with everyone else that "from which" sounds better.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    An airfield is a unit of military resources. It's a thing. It has a proper name. It's not a location. It came from that thing, which is what "which" represents.
     
    Last edited:

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    An airfield is a unit of military resources. It's a thing. It has a proper name. It's not a location. It came from that thing, which is what "which" represents.
    But our dictionaries say it's "an area":

    a level area on which airplanes take off and land.

    a level area, usually equipped with hard-surfaced runways, on which airplanes take off and land.

    a landing and taking-off area for aircraft, usually with permanent buildings
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Airfield in this use is the functional equivalent of "airport". It's a facility.

    This is Hunter Army Airfield.

    Hunter_Army_Airfield_-_Georgia.jpg


    It's not just the runway, it's the total facility, including the buildings. You can't see it in this picture, but there is a perimeter fence that goes around the whole thing, which is about twice as big as what is included in the picture.

    Hunter-Army-Airfield-Georgia-Army-Base-1024x526.jpg

    As it says, it's an installation.
     
    Last edited:

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Airfield in this use is the functional equivalent of "airport". It's a facility.

    This is Hunter Army Airfield.



    It's not just the runway, it's the total facility, including the buildings. You can't see it in this picture, but there is a perimeter fence that goes around the whole thing, which is about twice as big as what is included in the picture.

    View attachment 71480
    As it says, it's an installation.
    Thanks for explaining with pictures. I see what you're saying.

    But I don't think this necessarily prevents an airfield from being treated as a place. In fact, it sounds more like a place than a thing in your second picture.

    We can say "Welcome to [a place]" perhaps more readily than "Welcome to [a thing]". Moreover, the way it's written, "HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD" is written like a city in the phrase "HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, GEORGIA". We normally put a city name followed by a state name separated by a comma, as in "Savannah, Georgia".

    Also, the third line means "The world's best Installation for Armed Forces where soldiers can train, deploy(?), live and raise a Family".

    Last but not least, why do you think a military airfield meaning a military installation cannot be a place in the sense that it cannot be modified by a relative clause containing where?

    See these Ngrams:
    the military installation which,the military installation where

    the airfield which,the airfield where

    I'm not arguing that from where is more natural than from which in the original text. I'm just trying to figure out why from which is more natural than from where (or from where is not natural) in this particular text, despite the abundant evidence that "airfield" can be treated as a place.
     
    Last edited:

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    And to be clear, I wasn't saying where is wrong. I was explaining the view behind the sentence as spoken. The facility planned, prepared and launched the raid. The runway didn't launch the raid. It had no volition. It was the people operating the installation that launched the raid. The retaliation was against the facility and the people, not against the location.

    the airfield from which

    Which airfield launched the raid? :thumbsup:
    Where airfield launched the raid?
    :thumbsdown:
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    And to be clear, I wasn't saying where is wrong. I was explaining the view behind the sentence as spoken. The facility planned, prepared and launched the raid. The runway didn't launch the raid. It had no volition. It was the people operating the installation that launched the raid. The retaliation was against the facility and the people, not against the location.

    the airfield from which

    Which airfield launched the raid? :thumbsup:
    Where airfield launched the raid?
    :thumbsdown:
    If the original text were something like the US conducted a strike on the airfield by which the attack was launched, which would certainly denote the agent of launching the attack, and thus using by where would be wrong. But I'm not sure if which in the original text denotes the agent of launching the attack.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't understand the objections to the original text. There may be a transatlantic difference, I suppose.

    For me an airfield is a place, not a military installation. The RAF does not call its flying stations by names such as "Fred Bloggs Airfield", it calls them by names such as "RAF Brize Norton".

    I have no difficulty at all with Theresa May's "A year ago, after the atrocity at Khan Shaykhun, the US conducted a strike on the airfield from which the attack took place", spoken or written. If she had said "from where" I would not have paused a millisecond to wonder whether she would have been better to say "from which".
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    If she had said "from where" I would not have paused a millisecond to wonder whether she would have been better to say "from which".
    Thanks, Andy, for weighing in. You happen to be the first BE speaker in this thread so far, although I'm not sure if AE speakers would find "from where" in the original less natural than BE speakers.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Second - Aguas Claras, post 12.
    Thanks for pointing that out.
    I don't understand the objections to the original text. There may be a transatlantic difference, I suppose.
    If there's such a difference, I think it's because of "took place", not because of "from where".
    I've just encountered an AE example:
    Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched.
    (President Trump quoted in an NPR article)
    Interestingly, Trump used was launched instead of took place, as suggested by AE speaker idialegre in post #11, but Trump did use from where, which idialegre says in post #7 "simply does not sound natural" even in the form of ...from where the attack came. Go figure.
     
    "From where' sounds awkward in AE, and I can believe Trump, being rather unschooled, said it.

    If I get a letter, I don't ask the secretary, "From where does this letter come?", I say, "Where does this letter come from?" I may be wrong, but don't the British get around this awkwardness by using 'whence' ['from whence'], which now, to me seems rather dated?
     
    Didn't he go to college?


    In your examples, where is an interrogative word, which is not the same thing as the relative word where Trump used. I don't expect them to behave in the same way.

    Trump attended a university, yes.

    OK, better example. I receive an odd looking letter. I do NOT say to my secretary, "I don't know from where this letter came." I say, "I don't know where this came from."

    Yes, I find your VOA example a bit awkward. Note the more graceful wording:
    That is the location of the airport where several recent launches originated. :tick:
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    OK, better example. I receive an odd looking letter. I do NOT say to my secretary, "I don't know from where this letter came." I say, "I don't know where this came from."
    Isn't the where still an interrogative word?
    Yes, I find your VOA example a bit awkward. Note the more graceful wording:
    That is the location of the airport where several recent launches originated. :tick:
    Why do you show me a different sentence?
    You might as well just omit the from from the VOA sentence:
    That is the location of North Korea’s main international airport, from where several recent launches have originated.
     
    Top