that mayor's cousin

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that mayor's cousin

Post by navi » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:38 pm

Is this sentence correct:
1-I talked to that mayor's cousin who had a scar on his forehead.

Does 'that' unambiguously modify 'mayor'?
Does that mean that the speaker is either pointing to him or referring to him in a deprecating way?

Is it absolutely clear that it was the cousin who had the scar (and not the mayor)?

Gratefully,
Navi.
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Re: that mayor's cousin

Post by tony h » Fri Aug 22, 2014 7:20 pm

I talked to that mayor's cousin who had a scar on his forehead
The "that" does not require you to be in any sense in the room, although you could be.
eg You know the king that was on the throne at the time of the fire of London? Well it was that king who founded the Royal Observatory.

The "that" does suggest that the mayor has been unambiguously identified,

It certainly is not specifically deprecating. The following sentence could be : he got the scar wrestling with a polar bear to save a child from being eaten. Or, less heroically, he got it when he fell on to a toilet bowl when drunk at the church's Easter parade.

Does it make "it absolutely clear"? No. Although 99.99% would not mistake who had the scar. If I am writing a document (especially for Germans) I get rid of almost all ambiguous pronouns and would go for: I talked to that mayor's cousin. The cousin who had a scar on his forehead
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Signature: tony

I'm puzzled therefore I think.

Re: that mayor's cousin

Post by JerrySmile » Sat Aug 23, 2014 1:27 am

tony h wrote:would go for:

I talked to that mayor's cousin. The cousin who had a scar on his forehead
Much better.
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