which came out in 1973

This is the place to post questions and discussions on usage and style. The members of the Wordwizard Clubhouse will also often be able to help you to formulate that difficult letter.
Post Reply

which came out in 1973

Post by navi » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:18 pm

1) “I think we’ve made our best album since Quadrophenia in 1973,” singer Roger Daltrey said in a statement to Rolling Stone.


Quadrophenia was an album that came out in 1973. It was the only album by that name. The question is whether the sentence quoted in '1' is correct and, if it is, how should 'in 1973' be parsed?

The meaning of the first sentence is:

“I think we’ve made our best album since Quadrophenia, which came out in 1973,”

If the sentence is technically incorrect, is that kind of mistake common in informal, spoken English?


Re: which came out in 1973

Post by Phil White » Sat Sep 14, 2019 1:26 am

It is unproblematic.

I would understand the qualification "in 1973" in exactly the the same way as in "the Battle of Hastings in 1066". It is not necessary to say "the Battle of Hastings, which took place in 1066". It is simply a prepositional phrase used as an adjectival qualification.

Compare a sentence like "The seventies saw some great albums, like Rumours in 1977 or Close to the Edge in 1972."

"The man with a limp." (Not necessarily "the man who walked with a limp")
"The house in the woods." (Not necessarily "the house that stands in the woods.")

But there are a couple of other ways of explaining the syntax. It could be understood as an ellipsis of "which came out in", as you suggest. But ellipsis is not something restricted to colloquial English. It is merely more common in colloquial English.

A rather more outrageous way of seeing it is to see "in 1973" as an adverbial of time, and regarding "made" as referring to both the new album and to Quadrophenia.

A similar analysis would be to suggest that "we made" has been ellipted ("... since we made Quadrophenia in 1973."). This would also make the "in 1973" an adverbial of time referring to the elided verb "make".

They are all valid analyses, and without any insight into what was going on in Daltrey's head when he said it, there is no way of knowing which analysis is most accurate. And the likelihood of us ever knowing what has ever gone on in Daltrey's head is remote.
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Re: which came out in 1973

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sat Sep 14, 2019 2:56 am

I suspect that today, so many years later, even Roger Daltrey would be unable to truthfully explain his thought processes from around the time that the album came out unless he had noted the down in a diary or a journal of some kind, or maybe given an interview to a newspaper back then in which he mentioned them.0

Thw human mind has a habit of playing tricks, such as by "remembering" a more self-flattering, simpler (or conversely, more sophisticated) version of an event than actually occurred.

Post Reply