I am reading the transcript of a conversation among Micelle Goldberg, Frank Bruni and Anne Applebaum. When I heard Mika say on Morning Joe just now “less deaths” rather than “fewer deaths”, obviously thinking of deaths from the virus in the aggregate, it reminded me of a couple of items in the transcript.
When people are talking, even extremely literate and highly educated word people like journalists, authors, scholars and columnists (these 3 are all 3), you hear/read things that reveal what linguists mean when they distinguish between lagnue and parole, competence and performance.
Applebaum uses a resumptive pronoun in the subordinate clause thus: “Trump is somebody who he’s very rich.” The ‘he’ resumes the subject of the main clause, Trump, when SE requires only “is” without a subject. Later, her use of the word “lie” strikes me as a switch to transitivity when she passivizes it in “… and it was all lied to us….” SE does not say to lie something to someone.
These are good signals of possible directions a language might be changing in. The apparent waning of the relative “whose”, as in “the dripping of the faucet whose noise distracts me” results in very common phrasing like “the dripping of the faucet that its noise distracts me.” New directions?
A few lines later: “Anne Applebaum is someone who her willingness to kind of call out authoritarianism on the right certainly didn’t begin with Trump” rather than “whose willingness.”