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If you read or hear about a scientific result in the mainstream media, the odds are depressingly good that it's nonsense.

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First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 4/3/2014

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Update every 30 minutes. Last: 12:34 AM Pacific

 
   |  The which that restricts (The that which restricts)

posted at 09:38 AM | | [7] |

It is a non-truth all too often acknowledged, that a clause in possession of a restrictive relationship must be in want of a that. Any conservative-leaning guide to grammar will insist that you introduce "restrictive" clauses with that, and "non-restrictive" ones with which. Our corporate style guide is no exception; here's our guidance on the matter:

Correct
You will need to supply information about applications that you want to run with Windows.

Incorrect
You will need to supply information about applications which you want to run with Windows.

Correct
Your package contains the subsidiary information card, which you can use to obtain device drivers or local technical support.

No professional linguist takes this seriously. There's no evidence from actual English usage, contemporary or historical, that which is not suitable for introducing restrictive clauses. (You can find recent talk about this on the Langauge Log here.)

Why am I blathering on this? Because I have yet again found something amusing on Facebook. This time it's a description of one of the innumerable games that you can play via Facebook. (As if FB just by itself were not already a yawning time suck.) This particular game appears to be a typing type of game, which is described thusly:
Typing maniac is a game which measures the typing skills and the ability to think fast that features multiple power ups!
There is editorial gold here, including a capitalization error (Typing Maniac). But more to the point, it's a rare instance where that and which appear in the same sentence and either both introduce restrictive clauses or (perhaps arguable) are used "backward" per the style-guide rule. Examine:
Typing maniac is a game which measures the typing skills and the ability to think fast that features multiple power ups!
It seems clear to me that which is restrictive -- you would not write this:
*Typing maniac is a game, which measures the typing skills.
The that, in turn, could be either of these:
Typing maniac is a game which measures the typing skills and the ability to think fast and that features multiple power ups!

Typing maniac is a game which measures the typing skills and the ability to think fast, which features multiple power ups!
The larger point, as noted, is that whatever the style guides say, actual people who speak (or write) English have no notion of this artificial distinction between that and which. (Of course, actual people who write English also need editors, but altho that is amply shown here, we'll leave that discussion till later.)

And we'll not even talk about what multiple power ups could possibly mean, or whether you can pluralize a preposition (ups).

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