• Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact

  • Them that verb phrase

    August 12th, 2012
    firefly, ling  [html]
    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:

    Best Practices Civil Service

    I propose that transportation agencies hire people whose job is to keep abreast of global developments in the field and report on best practices. Which agencies should do it? Ideally, all urban ones. Very small ones should piggyback on large ones, or part…

    via Pedestrian Observations June 14, 2021

    Collections: The Queen’s Latin or Who Were the Romans? Part I: Beginnings and Legends

    Who were the Romans? How did they understand themselves as a people and ‘Roman’ as an identity? And what were the implications of that understanding – and perhaps more importantly the underlying reality – for Roman society and the success of the Roman Emp…

    via A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry June 11, 2021

    It's ok to feed stray cats

    Before we had kids, Jeff and I fostered a couple of cats. One had feline AIDS and was very skinny. Despite our frugal grocery budget of the time, I put olive oil on her food, determined to get her healthier. I knew that stray cats were not a top global pr…

    via Giving Gladly May 15, 2021

    more     (via openring)


  • Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact