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<nettime> language virus
keith {AT} thememorybank.co.uk on Fri, 24 Aug 2007 16:15:40 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> language virus


I wonder if nettimers can help me with a query that I have never until
now turned into an enquiry. I have noticed for years the growing
insertion of the phrase 'the way(s) in which' into English sentences.
In almost all cases the three-letter monosyllable 'how' can be
substituted without loss of meaning and with considerable stylistic
improvement. I have come to regard this linguistic tick as a virus. At
first it was largely restricted to academics, but by now it is much
more general, threatening to become an epidemic.

So three questions:

1. What is the history of the phenomenon? Presumably search engines
can help. Google throws up this high up for 'the way in which':

http://blog.welldesignedurls.org/2007/05/19/seeing-things-the-way-in-w
hich-o ne-wants-them-to-be-not-the-way-they-are/

But I need time-depth and the Oxford dictionary isn't onto it yet.

2. Why? I have several hypotheses but would prefer to know yours.

3. What similar language viruses have people noticed? I realize that
once I picked up on this one, I started noticing it everywhere. So I
may have missed others.

Keith Hart




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