Saturday, October 16, 2004

“Back off, man. I’m a scientist.”

The Movie: Ghostbusters, 1984 (Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis, screenwriters; Ivan Reitman, dir.)
Who says it: Bill Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman, a parapsychologist who doesn’t really believe in his subject
The context: The library administrator (John Rothman) challenges Venkman when he asks a librarian who’s just seen a ghost some personal and apparently irrelevant questions.
How to use it: To defend your questionable behavior from challenges. Especially useful if you are, in fact, a scientist.

Yesterday's leg: 530 miles, 1.75 tanks of gas
Stops: Mt. Vernon, IL; Griffin, IN; Ashland, KY; Charleston, WV

We interrupt this blog for a short rant about the use of "that" and "which," which came up with one of my clients again this week. British English and American English have different rules for these words, but here in the United States, the American rules apply.

American English uses "that" for necessary clauses that identify the subject of the sentence, and "which" for subordinate clauses that merely provide additional information about a subject identified by the rest of the sentence. Examples:

This is the dress that I bought for Anna's wedding.
The maroon dress, which I bought for Anna's wedding, was perfect for Jean's wedding as well.

A good general rule is that if you don't see a comma immediately before the word "which," you should probably use "that" instead.

Thanks, I feel better now.

Yesterday's trip was uneventful, although that stretch of I-64 between Evansville, IN and Lexington, KY is one of the most beautiful in the country. Leaves have changed; it's not just fall, it's late fall, which is a new experience for Dizzy.

Dizzy didn't really want to leave the Neelys' yesterday, and is losing enthusiasm for car rides. We'll probably stop overnight in Richmond, and stay with my sister Peggy and her family. They have one dog, two toddlers, and three cats, which Dizzy will be very excited about.

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