This sentence is from South Park. There was a lice problem in the school and the children demand that their teacher Mrs. Garrison tell them who exactly had the lice. She says that it's not important because
Whoever had the lice, they're dead now.
Now, obviously she means that the lice are dead, not the person who had them. But doesn't her sentence mean (strictly speaking) that the person is dead? In similar constructions in Standard English, can they refer to the object of the main clause? I see no syntactical difference between the first sentence and the seemingly wrong
Whatever damaged the keys, they're in my pocket now. (= the keys are in my pocket)
I guess my question is
- How should I parse the first sentence?
- Is the second sentence wrong?
- If so, What would be the difference between the first and the second sentence that makes the first sentence OK, but not the second?
Hope the question is on topic.
I am having some difficulty properly tagging the question. Please help :)