Been insanely busy these last few weeks (somehow have managed to become more than a month late on no less than four projects, which is kind of putting me in a paralyzing frenzy of conflicting priorities -- must do this today! no, this is more urgent! no, this is!) and has hence cut into blogging time. But just noticed the following which/that alternation in reading a student's paper. My student wrote:
"The voiced velar stop is only found in recent loan words from Spanish, that is why it is in parentheses."
As it is, I find I can only read this as a run-on sentence, with 'that' anaphoric to the preceding proposition; it should therefore be punctuated with a period after 'Spanish' and a captial 't' on 'That'. However, the rationale clause could be introduced with 'which' and be perfectly good as some kind of adjunct to the root clause, allowing the current punctuation to stand; that's how I've corrected it, as I think it's what is intended.
0. The voiced velar stop is only found in recent loan words from Spanish, which is why it is in parentheses.
The question is, what kind of adjoined clause is this (the corrected version)? Is it a nonrestrictive relative on a proposition? Does that phrase even make any sense at all (can one have a relative clause of any kind on anything other than an NP/DP?)? (Hmm. If I try to use this type of which-clause on a DP as any kind of relative, I get weirdness -- (1) below seems bad, but (2) is fine.
1. *(Sue described) [the situation(,) which was why she left]
2. (Sue described) [the situation(,) which was the cause of her leaving]
trying the same thing for 'how', I don't get the contrast as strongly. (3) is with a 'which is how...' clause modifying a propositon, like the first case above; (4) has a 'which is how...' modifying a DP, which I find pretty much acceptable compared to (1) above, (5) has a non-Q alternant:
3. Sue pulled on the handle, which was how she'd opened it last time.
4. ?(Sue described) [her secret recipe, which was how she got such great results].
5. (Sue described) [her secret recipe, which was the way she got such great results.]
Ditto for 'what':
6. Sue ate one of Mary's cookies, which was what had gotten her in trouble at the last birthday party.
7. (Sue described) [her secret recipe, which was what had won her first prize the year before.]
8. (Sue described) [her secret recipe, which was the reason she had won first prize the year before.]
Hmm, ok, now I'm really confused; if I modify 7 back to a 'why', I find it's fine as a relative on the DP; maybe (1) is just a garden pathing problem which is clarified in the secret recipe case:
7'.: (Sue described) [her secret recipe, which was why she had won first prize the year before].
Drat. Now that I say (1) to myself again. I find it perfectly fine. (Cf, e.g., the declarative, 'This situation is why she left'). I must have primed myself for the propositonal-modifier reading with the original case, and hence illusioned myself into missing the DP-readig. So never mind the whole raving series of contrasts above. Unless you also find a contrast... do you? It's probably all a question for the newly credentialed Lance, who no longer wonders his time remaining, but rather his job prospects. )
Basically, I just want to know what to call the kind of which-clause illustrated in 0, 3 and 6 above, where the 'which' is adding information about the proposition. Is it a (nonrestrictive) relative clause? What is it? I'm sure I should know this. Maybe my overcommitted state has shorted out my network of grammar concepts, as well as my judgments.