A) The legislation aims to regulate the hours under-16s can work online
Form : Defining relative clause with relative pronoun (which/that) ellipted. Ellipsis possible as the relative pronoun is the object of the relative clause.
Use: The ellipted pronoun is understood as referring anaphorically to the object of the main clause: the hours, which has to be interpreted as “the number of hours”.
Problems for Learners :
a) Not understanding the rules for relative pronoun ellipsis could lead them to produce erroneous sentence where the pronoun is the subject of the verb and cannot be ellipted – eg: *I saw John, invited me to a party. (who is erroneously ellipted).
b) In Arabic, when the relative pronoun refers to the object, additional reference to the antecedent must be included. Arabic learners might therefore expect or produce something like The hours which under-16s can work them online. (Swan and Smith)
c) When, as here, the referent of the pronoun is not literal but needs interpretation, learners may have difficulty decoding the meaning of the clause
B) The new law, which was passed unanimously on Tuesday, does not affect all children....
1. Non- defining relative clause, introduced by the relative pronoun which (used for "things" and ideas rather than people, domestic animals etc) acting as subject in the clause and referring anaphorically to The new law.
2. As the clause is non-defining, ie it gives extra information about the referent rather than identifying it, that cannot be used as an alternative. That is restricted to use in defining clauses
3. As the relative pronoun acts as subject in the clause, it cannot (on its own) be ellipted. Ellipsis of the relative pronoun alone is possible only when the relative pronoun acts as object or complement. However, as it is followed by the verb BE, a reduced relative clause (Quirk et al) could be used, ellipting both the subject pronoun and BE : The new law, passed unanimously on Tuesday, does not…
4. Because it is a non-defining clause, it is surrounded by commas to show that it is "extra" information and the main clause would remain grammatical and comprehensible without it.
5. The use of the non-defining clause marks the extract as likely to be from written discourse as non-defining relative clauses are rare in spoken English. (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English)
Problems for Learners
a) Lack of understanding of point 2 above could cause error - ie the inaccurate substitution of that for which
b) Lack of understanding of point 3 above could cause error - ie the inaccurate ellipsis of the relative pronoun.
c) Lack of understanding of point 4 above could lead in some sentences to doubt as to whether the clause is defining or non-defining eg The letter which was sent to everyone only explained half the problems. Is which was sent to everyone just extra information about a single letter, or does it distinguish between two letters - one which everyone received and another which only some people received.
d) Lack of understanding of point 5 could lead to the learner's speech sounding unnatural - stilted and over-formal
e) Learners whose L1s do not differentiate relative pronouns for gender may have difficulty choosing between who and which (Swan and Smith)
f) Spelling : Learners frequently omit the first "h" producing *wich
C) The new law... does not affect all children who appear on social media, ....
1. Defining relative clause, introduced by the relative pronoun who (used for " people, domestic animals etc) acting as subject in the clause and referring anaphorically to all children.
2. As the clause is defining, ie it is used to identify/specify the referent, that could be used as an alternative. That is restricted to use in defining clauses
3. As the relative pronoun acts as subject in the clause, it cannot be ellipted. Ellipsis is possible only when the relative pronoun acts as object or complement.
4. Because it is a defining clause, it is not separated from the main clause by a comma.
Problems for Learners:
a) Learners whose language does not include the /h/ phoneme (eg Italian) would tend to omit it producing /u:/
b) Phonological decoding - In connected speech, the fact that who ends in the vowel sound /u:/ means that. when followed by another word beginning with a vowel sound, the intrusive consonant /w/ would be used – here resulting in /hu:wəpɪə/. This might result in bottom-up processing problems. with learners misunderstanding what sound to them like “wappear”.
c) Also: see (B) point e above
D) The new law... does not affect all children... but instead targets those who spend significant amounts of time working online ...
Form/ Use: As in (C) above, except refers this time to those (children)
Problems for Learners:
a) See the comment on the /h/ phoneme in (C) above..
b) Decoding clause elements: The clause is part of a complex-compound sentence which contains 5 clauses up to that point - two main and two subordinate (plus another compounded main clause which follows). In order to decode this clause the reader must recognise not only that who refers anaphorically to those, but also that those is an ellipted version of those children, which acts as object in the second main clause where the subject (the new law) has also been ellipted.
E) The new law... does not affect all children... but instead targets those ... whose work generates an income.
Form and Use : Defining relative clause introduced by possessive relative pronoun whose - anaphoric reference to those (children)
Problems for learners:
a) Pronunciation - productive : Ls might have problems with any of the three phonemes in the word whose if these did not exist or were used differently in their L1. Eg: Italian learners would tend to omit the initial /h/ producing /u:z/
b) Use : Ls might presume that, as it is clearly related to who, the possessive form whose could only be used (like who) to refer to people. However, it is frequently also used to refer to other objects, places etc in order to avoid the more formal alternative of which which can often sound "clumsy" in the sentence. Example (from Lextutor):
- The five Central Asian states, WHOSE economic welfare was maintained by..
- ...water vapour, a gas WHOSE abundant concentration in the atmosphere..
- we cannot sanction the use of a method WHOSE practice has not been justified
- ...have encouraged competition between schools, WHOSE funding is now based on enrolment numbers
The misconception might lead them to misinterpret sentences like :Students have to solve problems whose solutions require a knowledge of calculus and to think that whose referred to the students rather than the problems.
c) Spelling : Knowing that ‘s can mark the possessive (eg Jane’s dog) Ls might confuse whose and who's as in these examples from the web :
Do any of you have favorite authors who’s books have become hard to find?
People who’s lives are manipulated by others…
What to do with a step daughter who’s behavior is out of control
F) Children's rights must be preserved and protected, including on the internet, which must not be a lawless area.
Form and use : See comments as in B1-5 above. Here refers anaphorically to “the internet.
Problems for Learners:
See the problems under (B) a-e above
G) According to Forbes, last year's top YouTube earner was Ryan Kaji, then aged eight, whose toy review channel made $26m (£20m).
Form/Use/Problems :Non defining relative clause. Anaphoric reference to Ryan Kaji. All other comments identical to those under E above.
H) Third on the list was Russian-born Anastasia Radzinskaya, now six, who earned $18m (£13.7m).
Form / Use / Problems: Non defining relative clause. Anaphoric reference to Anastasia Radzinskaya. Other comments the same as those for C above.
· Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, Second edition, Longman 1987
· Lextutor concordancer: Web Concordance English V. 9
· Quirk et al, A Grammar of Contemporary English, Longman 1982
· Swan and Smith, Learner English, CUP, 2001