there's no mystical energy field controls my destiny

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VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
Han Solo: Kid, I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I've seen a lot of strange stuff but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful force controlling everything. There's no mystical energy field controls my destiny. It's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, film

Did he just omit a relative pronoun ("that controls")?
Or does he mean it like: There's no "mystical energy field controls my destiny".?
Thanks.
 
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  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    He omitted "that" or "which". It's informal but it's not an error. Take for example the nursery rhyme Aiken Drum: "There was a man lived in the moon..." or the folk song "There was a man lived in the West".
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Ah, but nursery rhymes and songs have the benefit of poetic licence, and typically exercise it to make the syllable count fit.
    Free-running prose doesn't have that excuse, and strictly-speaking it is an error. Omitting the pronoun would be normal if "controls" were changed to "controlling".
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    It's very hard to search for constructions such as this, and I only quoted a couple I knew by heart. I'm willing to bet there are any number of well-attested examples from other sources. I'd say informal, poetic or even idiosyncratic, but too deliberate to be called an error.

    However, I wouldn't recommend it to a foreign learner!
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I agree, there is a missing "that". (In AE, I would only use "that", not "which".) But I don't think "that" is optional in this sentence.

    In many similar sentences "that" is optional. Usually in those sentences "that" connects a "think/know/say/hope/wish" verb with an independent clause describing the thing thought/known/said/hoped/wished:
    We think (that) he should quit.:tick:
    I am sure (that) you know best.:tick:
    They tell me (that) I should ask Mr. Holmes.:tick:

    But the example sentence sounds wrong to me (in AE) without "that". "There's no field" literally means "no field exists", which doesn't work without "that" either:

    There's no mystical energy field controls my destiny.:cross:
    There's no mystical energy field that controls my destiny.:tick:

    No mystical energy field exists controls my destiny.:cross:
    No mystical energy field exists that controls my destiny.:tick:
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    I agree with Keith. Omitting relative "that" after "There's" or "It's" is common in speech (at any rate in mine), and this is a film script. There's a path between the trees leads to the river. It's an ill wind blows no one any good.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thank you all.
    But the example sentence sounds wrong to me (in AE) without "that".
    Also, the link in #5 has another link, and then yet another... which all agree that this usage is colloquial/non-standard/informal, but not particularly "wrong".
     
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    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    This may be an AE/BE difference -- something that is acceptable in BE, but not in AE. All the other examples people give sound like BE to me.

    If other AE speakers think it's acceptable, then it being unacceptable is just my opinion. I've certainly been wrong before, when I assumed that my opinion matched "all AE speakers".
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I don't consider it standard English, personally. Not that it isn't used in BE but as far as l'm concerned it's dialect, which doesn't however make it wrong : usage is usage after all.
     
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