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In the following utterance:

“You know all you’re getting off it then is maybe the CD-ROM which surely that’s not worth grabbing”.

I’m trying to say that they use non standard grammar by using the demonstrative “that” (in the bold) which would normally not be there.

But what is the precise standard ‘rule’ that is not being followed in the bolded text (not the rest of the utterance) hence making it non standard? (Rule is in quotations as I don’t mean to say that it’s necessarily incorrect.)

E.g. In “I didn’t eat no apple” is non standard due to the double negation.

Note that this is spoken, not written.

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3 Answers 3

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*You know all you’re getting off it then is maybe the CD-ROM which surely that’s not worth grabbing.

The basic relative clause can be analysed as "which is not worth grabbing", where "which" is subject with "CD-ROM" as its antecedent.

The existence of an anaphoric link between "which" and "CD-ROM means that it is not possible to have a further anaphoric element ("that") linked to the same antecedent, i.e. "CD-ROM".

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Feb 21, 2021 at 1:24
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The speaker's brain has changed course mid-utterance, and everything after which is almost a separate sentence. The "which" means something like ", and the upshot of that is:".

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This sentence is just an example of one of the complexieties of the English Language. While it can be parsed as the relative clause “which is not worth grabbing”, I will take a different approach because the relative which clause can refer to a whole sentence (as suggested by Will Crawford’s brief answer), ranging from basic to very complex:

Chris did really well in his exams, which is quite a surprise.

My friends were all hiding in my apartment, which isn't what I'd expected.

She's studying to become a doctor, which is difficult.

Source: https://www.ef.co.uk/english-resources/english-grammar/non-defining-relative-clauses/

I think the other thing that was really good about it as well was that everybody worked really hard and helped tidy up at the end, which I hadn’t expected at all.

Source: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/relative-clauses-referring-to-a-whole-sentence

The OP’s example is a non-defining relative which clause.

Non-defining relative clauses are composed of a relative pronoun, a verb, and optional other elements such as the subject or object of the verb. Commas or parentheses are always used to separate non-defining relative clauses from the rest of the sentence.

Answer

In the way the sentence is contructed, IT IS UNGRAMMATICAL as the object 'that clause' is missing a verb which in this case is “means”:

“You know all you’re getting off it then is maybe the CD-ROM, which surely means that’s not worth grabbing”.

As mentioned in EF’s quote a non-defining relative clause must be separated with a comma, but Cambridge notes:

We often use these clauses in informal speaking to express an opinion or evaluation [...]

In speaking we sometimes pause before these clauses:

She just lives six doors away, [pause] which is very handy.

This is a perfectly possible explanation as to why a comma was not included as in speech it is normally represented through a pause.

In everyday speech, it is therefore possible to create a number of different non-defining relative clauses which can just be as ambigious:

  1. The girl who is cooking the fish which father caught is my sister.
  2. The girl who is cooking the fish that father caught is my sister.
  3. The girl who is cooking the fish father caught is my sister.
  4. The girl cooking the fish father caught is my sister.
  5. The girl cooking the fish that father caught is my sister.
  6. The girl cooking the fish which father caught is my sister.
  7. The girl that is cooking the fish that father caught is my sister.
  8. The girl that is cooking the fish which father caught is my sister.
  9. The girl that is cooking the fish father caught is my sister.

While it is clear to some that five is the most sensible, all 9 sentences are perfectly grammatical but subject to some better stylistic choices.


Other possible resources to read: Edwin’s answer on Double relative clause.

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