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  1. #1
    keannu's Avatar
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    Martha has a son, who lives in Russia

    Many grammar books emphsize the difference between descriptive usage and consecutive usage of relative pronoun, but I wonder if native speakers actually perceive them differently. In the following, if the relative pronoun is a consecutive usage, does it really mean "she has only one son?" I doubt it.

    Q)Choose the matching one for the following - Answer : a.
    ex)Martha has a son, who lives in Russia.
    a.Martha has only one son
    b.Martha may have more than one son.

  2. #2
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    Re: Martha has a son, who lives in Russia

    1. Martha has a son, who lives in Russia.
    2 Martha has a son who lives in Russia
    .

    In #1, the implication is that Martha has only one son.
    In #2, she may, or may not, have more than one son.

  3. #3
    keannu's Avatar
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    Re: Martha has a son, who lives in Russia

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    1. Martha has a son, who lives in Russia.
    2 Martha has a son who lives in Russia.

    In #1, the implication is that Martha has only one son.
    In #2, she may, or may not, have more than one son.
    I always tell my students that native speakers seem to perceive even a descripted sentece in a sequential order. What I mean is, they think "Martha has a son" first, and then "who lives in Russia" later as the two are almost like two seperate sentences.When you think of "who" in this sentence, don't you think "who" is like the person(he, she,etc)? Don't you think "he or she lives in Russia" separately? I'd like to know how "who" and the the whole descripted part are perceived by native speakers.

    ex)Martha has a son who lives in Russia

  4. #4
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    Re: Martha has a son, who lives in Russia

    I told you in my last post how I, a native speaker of BrE, interpret those two sentences. In #2, I do not see 'Martha has a son' and 'who lives in Russia' as separate entities. What Martha has is a son-who-lives-in-Russia.

  5. #5
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    Re: Martha has a son, who lives in Russia

    This is how I perceive them:

    Martha has a son, who lives in Russia = Martha has a son. He lives in Russia. (I would infer that she only has one son. She may have daughters as well, but probably no other sons.)

    Martha has a son who lives in Russia = I have no idea how many children she has in total. The only thing I can be certain about is that she has at least one child, who is male, and who lives in Russia.

  6. #6
    keannu's Avatar
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    Re: Martha has a son, who lives in Russia

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    I told you in my last post how I, a native speaker of BrE, interpret those two sentences. In #2, I do not see 'Martha has a son' and 'who lives in Russia' as separate entities. What Martha has is a son-who-lives-in-Russia.
    I didn't mean that. I didn't contradict what you said for the both. It's hard to explain as it's the difference between English and Korean. I'm just asking the perception of relative pronoun of "who, which" by native speakers.

    Korean : Martha has a "Russia at living" son.
    English : Martha has a son who lives in Russia

    Korean has a different word order, so however long the descriptive part is, we always place it before a noun it's related to, so whenever we see a reversed order in English, we wonder how it can describe so well from backward. I think native speakers have the perception from backward that describes or limits the previous word. But with comma in writing, they seem not to think of it as description, but a consecutive flow.
    My really serious question is how you perceive "who", as who is originally an interrogative, but do you perceive it as "he or she or they" a pronoun or what else or meaningless?

  7. #7
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    Re: Martha has a son, who lives in Russia

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    My really serious question is how you perceive "who", as who is originally an interrogative, but do you perceive it as "he or she or they" a pronoun or what else or meaningless?
    Who is saying that "who" is originally interrogative? That is one of its functions, but no native speaker would think even for moment that this might be an interrogative, because they have extensive experience of it also being a relative pronoun.
    I perceive these two sentences differently, and in the same way as the others have mentioned.

  8. #8
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    Re: Martha has a son, who lives in Russia

    I'm a Japanese-language student, and I don't possess any tertiary qualifications ( my apologies if the following comment is naive )...Is " Martha has a son, who lives in Russia " a response to a question ? ( i.e. " does Martha have ANY children ? " ) In my opinion, many native speakers would say " Martha has a son that lives in Russia " though this response is also ambiguous because Martha may have had another child or children that are deceased..." Martha has a son, who lives in Russia " is obviously an example of colloquial speech ( using imperfect grammar ) that requires face-to-face communication, knowledge of context, speech tone and body language in order to be comprehended. It may have been said thus " Martha has A son, who lives in Russia "...with " A " being pronounced " ay " ( meaning 1 )
    Last edited by DeanGray; 11-Jan-2012 at 19:59.

  9. #9
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    Re: Martha has a son, who lives in Russia

    Quote Originally Posted by DeanGray View Post
    Martha has a son, who lives in Russia " is obviously an example of colloquial speech ( using imperfect grammar ) that requires face-to-face communication, knowledge of context, speech tone and body language in order to be comprehended.
    Why do you think this is imperfect grammar? What makes it colloquial?

    I certainly agree that an awful lot of what we say requires context and often requries tone, but I don't see what you see here.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  10. #10
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    Re: Martha has a son, who lives in Russia

    Here's a thread where the experts and teachers are being as patient as can be, yet the learners seem stubbornly unwilling to hear them.

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