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The complete sentence:

Yet I should point out before I proceed with this line that when I use ‘ideology,’ I do not mean to imply the now-familiar sinister connotations of mischief or falsehood attached to the term; rather, I see Scott’s ideology simply as a mindset or a belief system which was true to him, and he to it.

Please give me some guidance on this part of the phrase; it sounds terribly off.

. . . a belief system which was true to him, and he to it.

I mean to say that:

a) the so-called mindset was true "to him" (meaning "true to him" according to the way he perceives the world); and b) he is "true to his (same) mindset" (as in he stays true to it).

The main trouble for me is "which". It refers to "the mindset"; however, it sounds odd with the addition "and he to it", because it should be grammatically unacceptable to use both the relative pronoun and the pronoun. Should I instead say: "and he to which"?

A good paraphrase to what I am trying to say:

. . . a mindset or a belief system which was genuinely true to him, and to which he stays so too.

Also what do you think of the preposition "of" and "of" in the following?

the now-familiar sinister connotations of mischief or falsehood attached to the term The complete sentence

  • Did you mean the preposition "to" or preposition "of"? – Malvolio Jul 29 '14 at 17:06
  • Attached to is an idiom, and the to is required when mentioning both parts in an unconjoined fashion: A and B are attached = A is attached to B = B is attached to A. – John Lawler Jul 29 '14 at 17:06
  • And connotations of is another, describing the emotional effect of the connotations as the object of of. Prepositions by themselves are irrelevant -- all they do is mark nouns in relation to other words, and which one gets used is determined by the constructions involved -- normally the main predicate or modified noun will determine. – John Lawler Jul 29 '14 at 17:08
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First, I don't think you should you use "which" as a restrictive clause. At the very least, the phrase should be

. . . a belief system that was true to him, and he to it.

As for your actual question. Items in a list should be parallel and therefore grammatically interchangeable. What is the first item on the list of which "he to it" is the second? I don't see it.

Still, "and he to which" is unreadable. I think the right answer (although less euphonious than that original) is

. . . a belief system that was true to him, and to which he was true.

(Incidentally, this construction, especially in its original form, is a syllepsis, and a good one. In its first use, true means "factually correct"; in its second, it means "loyal".)

EDIT: rethinking it, I like

I see Scott’s ideology simply as a mindset or a belief system, one that was true to Scott, and to which he was true.

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  • I'm afraid you've got it backwards. Which is perfectly fine in restrictive relative clauses. It's that which gets forbidden in non-restrictive relatives; restrictive clauses have far more latitude. – John Lawler Jul 29 '14 at 17:27
  • "Which is perfectly fine in restrictive relative clauses." In your opinion, that is. Using which instead of that in a sentence like >. . . a belief system that was true to him, and he to it. is a great way to draw the ire of the editors at my publication and of most conscientious prescriptivists. FDR got this wrong, too: >Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy . . . – cheftripper Jul 29 '14 at 18:32
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    I don't know where "perfectly fine" comes from. It certainly sounds funny to me; admittedly the non-restrictive that sounds worse to me. – Malvolio Jul 29 '14 at 20:24
  • @user Unless they're paying you to do their writing -- in which case of course you have to do what you're told, no matter what you think -- you are free to write in English, and while there are opinions, which you are at liberty to share, to the effect that it is wrong and that you'll go blind if you do it too often and that if everybody did it civilization would collapse, these are false. Feel free to believe them, however, if you find it makes you feel superior. – John Lawler Jul 29 '14 at 20:42
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    @user86617 The 'prescriptivists' is a problem here, though you have my eternal sympathies re your editors. Despite what journal style guides and decree, the finest English writers that we have ever known, did not adhere to this invented rule (if a grammatical rule it actually is deemed to be in this case, as opposed to a style prescription within one given publication). If our most esteemed writers have never adhered to the rule, and native speakers generally don't, then it's not really grammar at all - just an embarrassing whimsy. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jul 29 '14 at 23:27

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