I realise it's probably an outdated form, but this exchange (from Master and Commander) makes me wonder:

Captain: Killick! Killick there! What do you have for us tonight?

Cook: Which it's soused hog's face.

Captain: Eh?

Cook: Which it is soused hog's face!

Captain: My favourite. My favourite.

I really don't understand, from a grammar point of view, how those words go together as a (correct) sentence. Can someone please elucidate?

  • 2
    It appears to be a usage which once had currency,. and the question which has been asked in other places, this might be helpful. itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/000118.html
    – Spagirl
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 15:31
  • It's non-standard English. Probably West Country (England) where supposedly many English sailors came from.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 16:44

2 Answers 2


I immediately thought of Joe Gargery's contorted language in Dickens' Great Expectations; though to my surprise I find only one example of exactly this:

"Well!" said Miss Havisham. "And you have reared the boy, with the intention of taking him for your apprentice; is that so, Mr. Gargery?"

"You know, Pip," replied Joe, "as you and me were ever friends, and it were looked for'ard to betwixt us, as being calculated to lead to larks. Not but what, Pip, if you had ever made objections to the business—such as its being open to black and sut, or such-like—not but what they would have been attended to, don't you see?"

"Has the boy," said Miss Havisham, "ever made any objection? Does he like the trade?"

"Which it is well beknown to yourself, Pip," returned Joe, strengthening his former mixture of argumentation, confidence, and politeness, "that it were the wish of your own hart." (I saw the idea suddenly break upon him that he would adapt his epitaph to the occasion, before he went on to say) "And there weren't no objection on your part, and Pip it were the great wish of your hart!"

I take it to be reanalysing "which" in an exchange like:

"And this is the dinner?"

"... which is soused hog's face."

as though it is just a conjunction linking back to the previous sentence, rather than as a relative pronoun. But it is rather confused.


Reference: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/soused The term "Soused" has a lot of meanings and definitions; the meaning varies whether it is used as a noun or verb. One of its definitions as a noun (referring to the link above) is:

'something kept or steeped in pickle, especially the head, ears, and feet of a pig.'

Reference: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/hog's-face

Hog's face is also a noun, in your given example. The hog's face as noun has two definitions:

'(As a term of abuse) a person considered to have a face or facial expression like that of a hog.'

'The face of a hog, especially as an article of food.'

The second one is true based on the context of your question. The captain is asking Cook, what dose he prepared for the dinner, and he is replying he had prepared soused hog's face.

That's what I found by a simple googling. Hope it helps.

  • 2
    The question was about the "which it is", not the "soused hog's face".
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 16:38
  • @Colin Fine: Per my closevote above, exactly the same example usage was queried a year ago. Personally, I've no idea whether it really was a "natural" usage long ago, or if it's just modern scriptwriters inventing a quirky form to give an air of "quaintness". But perhaps you know more about this than me. Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 16:46

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