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Wild whiches of Oklahoma: The use of connective which in Oklahoma English

Dean, Chandler
Historically, which is a relative pronoun; it not only connects two clauses, but also creates a gap that refers back to something in the main clause. However, speakers of British, Australian, and northeastern American English can use which forms that are only connective– they have no gap (Burke, 2015; Loock, 2007a; Loss & Wicklund, 2022; Loss, n.d.). For example, in the sentence from Loock’s (2007a: 75) work, “And she decided to move out which I think she’s crazy,” which has neither an antecedent nor a gap. Broader claims about the use of which in American English require data from other dialect regions. Oklahoma is a perfect candidate because it contains both Midland and Southern dialects. My research explores the use of which in Oklahoma English and compares it to Loss’s work on northeastern American English. To capture conversational Oklahoma English, I created an automated transcription of The Oklahoma Today Podcast and categorized each use of which as a relative pronoun or connective which. The corpus contains 85,431 words, and 156 instances of which. Of these, 15 (10%) are connective. This is comparable to Loss’s corpus in which 53 (15%) which are connective X2 (2, N = 474) = 2.7217, p = 0.098. The subdivision of the types of connective which in each corpus are also strikingly comparable, X2 (2, N = 67) = 1.6314, p = 0.44. This study suggest that Oklahoma podcast use of connective which is similar to NE American English podcast use of connective which and therefore could be a feature of general American English. We must study this construction in other American dialects.