Them that verb phrase

August 12th, 2012
firefly, ling
One grammatical quirk of the 'rural' dialect in Firefly is restrictive relative clauses "them that" as in:
If that's what you think of this life, then you can't think much of them that choose it, can you? -- Kaylee
Or "them as":
Just get us some passengers. Them as can pay. -- Mal
Small crew, them as feel the need to be free - Mal
To see whether this was something English used to do or something Whedon made up, we can look at the N-Gram viewer:
Them that are, Them as are:
Them that can, Them as can:
So "them that/as verb" appears to be something English used to do a lot more of.

People pretty much don't use that construction now, unless they're mimicing Firefly, so how did we lose it? It looks to me like the main change was using "those" in place of "them":

Them who are, Those who are:
Them who can, Those who can:
Them who do, Those who do:
It appears "those who" has always been much more popular (but "those that" is catching up):

Comment via: google plus, facebook

Recent posts on blogs I like:

Trust as a bottleneck to growing teams quickly

non-trust is reasonable • trust lets collaboration scale • symptoms of trust deficit • how to proactively build trust

via benkuhn.net July 13, 2024

Linkpost for July

Effective altruism, rationality, metascience, economics, social justice, fun.

via Thing of Things July 10, 2024

Coaching kids as they learn to climb

Helping kids learn to climb things that are at the edge of their ability The post Coaching kids as they learn to climb appeared first on Otherwise.

via Otherwise July 10, 2024

more     (via openring)