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So I’ve noticed several instances where we use “which” in English in an ungrammatical way. For example:

This isn’t a story. It’s a road trip, which, same difference

I’m a native English speaker and whenever I see this usage it makes me wonder how I could even translate it. It seems to refer back to something that was just mentioned.

Does anyone know when we started using it like this or if there is any semblance of grammar behind it?

Some other examples:

She’s going to take the test, which, I really hope she passes it.

or:

I have so much heavy lifting to do, which... I shouldn’t really be doing that since my back hurts.

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    Never seen this usage. Besides which, I have no idea what same difference is supposed to mean here. – FumbleFingers Jun 14 '20 at 11:53
  • @FumbleFingers just heard it in a podcast. it was from the teaser for “alice isn’t dead.” you can find it on spotify if you would like some more context. i definitely hear this usage of “which” overwhelmingly often in daily life. i use too. – jacoballens Jun 14 '20 at 11:54
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    @Peter: I get that! But with OP's example, the question is No different to what? Another road trip? – FumbleFingers Jun 14 '20 at 12:23
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    Both your examples are syntactically defective - it's just what happens in conversational contexts where the speaker doesn't have the time / inclination / fluency to correctly structure his text with the correct prepositions / conjunctions / etc. So It’s a road trip, which is "same difference" (which is the same thing). And in your second example the speaker is getting confused about whether he should have the word which at all - which refers to "the test", later reprised as "it", but actually that doesn't work. It should be a full stop there, not the word "which". – FumbleFingers Jun 14 '20 at 12:32
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    That's to say - nobody has "started" using some new aspect of "valid" grammar here. There have always been people who are sloppy in their use of language. – FumbleFingers Jun 14 '20 at 12:34
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All three example sentences might have issues, but none of those issues are being caused by the use of which.

Consider the following rephrasing of each sentence in a way that makes it clearly grammatical, but while preserving the use of which:

  1. This isn’t a story. It’s a road trip, which is the same difference.

    I've removed the second comma and replaced it with two missing words. It might be thought that the second comma was "standing in" for the missing words, but that would be an unusual interpretation. Whether the use of the same difference makes sense, is another issue. The use of which wasn't the problem.

  2. She’s going to take the test, which I really hope she passes.

    I've removed the second comma and the final it. Again, it's not which that was causing the problem, but a comma. In this case it was also the addition of a word rather than the omission of two.

  3. (a) I have so much heavy lifting to do, which … I shouldn’t really be doing since my back hurts.

    On the assumption that this is a single sentence, I have corrected it by removing that after really. The ellipsis simply indicates a pause in the middle of the sentence. Again, there is no problem with which.

    However, if the original version was actually two sentences, then there would be no problem at all—aside from the ambiguity of the ellipsis and the capital I that makes it unclear if it's a single sentence or two sentences. If the pronoun is replaced with one that does not become capitalized when used mid-sentence, this becomes clearer:

    (b) She has so much heavy lifting to do, which … She shouldn’t really be doing that since her back hurts.

    Since She is capitalized, it's clearly the start of a second sentence. As a second sentence, the use of that is appropriate.

    The only thing possibly wrong with this (stylistically) is if it's not actually dialogue but narrative. In dialogue, it's common to use ellipses to indicate the trailing off of thoughts (and speech) in this way. But it's fairly uncommon to use it similarly in narrative. However, even if used in narrative, it would indicate the intentional omission of words.

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