Which I've never been there

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John Allison

Senior Member
Russian
Hi,

Yet another extract from 'The magicians' by Lev Grossman:

“The Dean will probably be down to get you in another minute,” Eliot said. “Here’s my advice. Sit there”—he pointed to a weathered stone bench, like he was telling an overly affectionate dog to stay—“and try to look like you belong here. And if you tell him you saw me smoking, I will banish you to the lowest circle of hell. Which I’ve never been there, but if even half of what I hear is true it’s almost as bad as Brooklyn.”
If I were to write such a sentence, I would naturally write: Which I've never been to, but... or Well, I've never been there, but... How come there is no 'to' with 'which'? Is this grammatically correct?
 
  • boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    ...
    If I were to write such a sentence, I would naturally write: Which I've never been to, but... or Well, I've never been there, but... How come there is no 'to' with 'which'? Is this grammatically correct?
    :confused: I suppose this is either some colloquialism or a deliberate error for humour's sake.

    Otherwise, I would have called this 'completely ungrammatical'...
     

    John Allison

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Err, I seem to have just come across another occurrence:

    “It’s jacket and tie at all times except in your room,” Fogg explained. “There are more rules; you’ll pick them up from the others. Most boys like to choose their own ties. I am inclined to be lenient on that score, but don’t test me. Anything too exciting will be confiscated, and you’ll be forced to wear the school tie, which I know very little about these things, but I am told is cruelly unfashionable.”
    Sounds strange to me: I'd say either which I know very little about or just I know very little about these things

    Well, seems it's not an OCR error. What grammar construction is it then? Or should this be understood as follows: which (I know very little about these things, but I am told) is cruelly unfashionable.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Both are entirely ungrammatical in the standard dialect, so don't worry about that. I don't know what's going on: it's not a familiar non-standard construction, such as might be used in dialogue to show a person's origin or character. I don't know of anywhere that does this. And the other examples of their speech seem quite standard, so that's strange.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Both of them are written in a way that Irish people, or those of recent Irish ancestry, are supposed to talk. (In my experience they don't, their English is as good as anyone else's, but that's a stereotyped grammatical form.)
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    Both of them are written in a way that Irish people, or those of recent Irish ancestry, are supposed to talk. (In my experience they don't, their English is as good as anyone else's, but that's a stereotyped grammatical form.)
    You will never hear an Irish person utter that. We use many "non-standard" constructions here, but that definitely isn't one of them.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    You will never hear an Irish person utter that. We use many "non-standard" constructions here, but that definitely isn't one of them.
    I know that, but it still survives as a stereotype in the U.S. I would not be surprised to find that a non-Irish author used it in that way. (I don't like some of the stereotypes that apply to my heritage, but I can't change them either.)
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    I've heard it here - pretty often, actually. I don't think it's confined to people of Irish extraction, but of course that's where it might have started. I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear it from almost anybody, so long as he was speaking casually. I never even knew it was "supposed" to be Irish. Certainly when I've heard it used, the speaker hasn't given any indication that this was the case.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    This is the sort of thing that turns up in conversation when a person utters the beginning of one structure, forgets how he/she started, and then provides the end of another structure.

    Since it is still understandable, we don't usually say "Pardon me", or whatever, if we hear it. We just go on.

    Court transcriptions are full of such things, but I suspect an author putting it in a book outside of a direct quote is just attempting to write something that "sounds" like a "real" conversation. I don't think it alludes to a particular tradition or heritage.
     

    John Allison

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks to all of you!

    This is the sort of thing that turns up in conversation when a person utters the beginning of one structure, forgets how he/she started, and then provides the end of another structure.

    Since it is still understandable, we don't usually say "Pardon me", or whatever, if we hear it. We just go on.

    Court transcriptions are full of such things, but I suspect an author putting it in a book outside of a direct quote is just attempting to write something that "sounds" like a "real" conversation. I don't think it alludes to a particular tradition or heritage.
    Yes, this seems to me like the most plausible explanation by far.
     
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