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If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans

Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-20003949-71.html#ixzz1E2gBVWga

What does the which mean?

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2 Answers 2

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This is a contraction of "I think the outcome would be much the same as" ...

The "which" refers to the outcome.

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  • 1
    Wrong on the which. Commented Feb 15, 2011 at 16:12
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    @jae - Care to elaborate?
    – Chris
    Commented Feb 15, 2011 at 16:31
  • be much the same as the outcome was when
    – mplungjan
    Commented Feb 15, 2011 at 16:44
  • @Chris: see kiam's answer on that. Commented Feb 15, 2011 at 17:45
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The phrase can be interpreted as having an implicit as (as much as instead of much as), and read as

If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be the same as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans.

Which is a relative pronoun used to for something previously mentioned; in the example, which refers to when Christopher Columbus first landed in America.
The sense of the sentence is that the outcome of aliens visiting us would be the same as when Columbus first landed in America: it would not turn out very well for us.

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    I don't think "as much as" is what they meant here. As much what as when Columbus landed?
    – mmyers
    Commented Feb 15, 2011 at 17:09

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