Re: that/which--an exception to majority opinion

Subject: Re: that/which--an exception to majority opinion
From: "Segal, Betty S." <bss3 -at- PHPMTS1 -dot- EM -dot- CDC -dot- GOV>
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 1994 13:05:00 EST

Subscriber asdxvlk (sorry--I don't know your name) feels that I did not
accurately summarize majority opinion on this issue when I said:

<Almost everyone seemed to agree that, even if most readers wouldn't notice
<if we broke the rule, we should enforce it either because people who knew
<would recognize that we were good writers if we made this distinction or
<because we can teach people to keep the rule if we model correct usage.

I apologize if I have misrepresented the consensus on this point. I was
summarizing from memory, and trying to avoid extensive quotes from various

I must disagree with "asdxvlk," however, when she (he?) says:

< Actually some of us seemed to agree that incorrect usage "sounds queer

<and funny to the ear; a little bit jumbled and jivey" as the old
< Mairsy Doats tune put it.

My point, which I supported with two rather lengthy quotations, was that
usage which is at variance with the that/which "rule" is NOT incorrect.

So that I am not completely misunderstood, let me hasten to say that I do
frequently change _which_ to _that_ based on sound, because to my ear _
that_ sounds better in most instances than _which_ . It fits the simple,
direct style I try to edit into our publications. I do not, however, use the
that/which "rule" to justify these changes to the writers that I edit--nor
do I consider whether the phrases being edited are restrictive or

Good writing to you.

Betty Segal -- BSS3 -at- PHPMTS1 -dot- EM -dot- CDC -dot- GOV
Sr. Training Development Specialist (Instructional Editor)

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