Hello, everyone.

My question is about Relative Pronoun "what." Here is some example.

(1)"I think they got him with the old high-low," Miller said. That is the what you do against the Rams these days. You hit Miller high and Chandler low. (The Los Angels Times, Nov.14,1998)

(2)However, check the monthly payment quoted by the utility and compare it wiht the what you actually paid last year to ensure you are not over-paying. (The Observerer, Jan. 11,1998)

(3) But if a copy of the what the famous science fiction writer didn't say didn't reach your mailbox, you can read now at... (The Guarduan, Aug. 21, 1997)

As I quoted these example, there are the article in the sentences of Relatives.What are they? For native speakes, when you describe so?
I cannot sleep without knowing it. lol...

Also, I want to know books referring about it. If you know something, I'd like you to tell me.

Thank you for reading.
Original Post
This is a new construction to me; I've never heard or seen it before. But, doing some searching on Google, I have found enough examples of the construction to conclude that it's not a case of carelessness in writing but a construction that is being used, albeit rarely.

From the few example sentences I've found on Google, I've concluded that these wh-combinations, known as nominal relative clauses (e.g. "what you do" or "what you paid), are being treated as a unit of meaning equivalent to a noun phrase. The use of "the" signals this transformation.

Writers nowadays often fail to use quotation marks where they would be useful, but I think these writers are mentally linking the words on the wh-constructions thus:

...the "what you do"

...the "what you actually paid"

...the "what the famous science fiction writer didn't say"

Some few writers observe the appropriate punctuation, but most don't.

Here are some of the very few instances of this curious construction that I've found on Google. First, some appropriately punctuated examples, then some unpunctuated ones. (Note that other wh-words are also used):

"” If the Password/PIN and/or the token is protected by a biometric the probability of 100% compromise is dramatically reduced. What is required is a low cost non-invasive biometric which can easily and simply combine the "what you know" with the "what you have" with the biometric to create high security.

"” Can you imagine how many CDs arrive on a director's desk when a movie hasn't even been green lighted yet? Once the word gets out that something's on the go, it's 100's and 100's. How can they all be listened to? Simple answer - they aren't. That's where you need the 'who you know' to listen and consider if you've got the 'what you know'.

Now for some unpunctuated ones:

"” The combination of putting both the who you know with the what you know will increase your chances greatly of receiving the grant you are looking for.

Well the who you know won't get you the job, but it may get your foot in the door or ensure that your resume gets a second glance.

You should stand with your feet less than shoulder width apart. You should be on the balls of your feet. Your weight should be about 90% over your back leg, with your knees only slightly bent. You should have some bounce in your feet and knees. As far as I am concerned, anything else is purely a matter of personal preference. As for the why you stand like you do, here is my reasoning. ...

"” Draw up a list of questions. Work from big picture to specifics. Think first about the what you need to know about the industry in general, then research the specific company and finally determine how and where you might fit in.

"” In your initial paragraph, state the why you are writing the letter, name the specific position or type of work for which you are applying, and indicate from which resource (career center, website ad, news paper ad, friend, or employment service) you learned of the opening.

(The word "why" in this example looks suspiciously like a substitute for the more precise word "reason." Similarly, in the second of Aspect's sentences, the word "what" looks like a substitute for "amount." If so, we have a reason for feeling depressed about the state of the language.)

"” Overview of Steps [in evaluating the course] [...]
Step 4. Reflect on the what you learned this year in creating your Research Portfolio
Step 5. Provide comments and suggestions for future Research Portfolios

"” To be practical about it, what I'm doing is trying to weigh the opportunities of success vs. the chance of failure and doing the what I can to maximize the former while preparing the latter.

(Note here the absence of the definite article on "what I'm doing.")

"” I was a little perturbed by the what I perceived as the tone of this article.

"” Write a 2-3 page paper that answers these two questions: 1) What is Kant's theory of the moral worth of persons and actions?; and 2) How much moral worth would Kant claim that each person's action has, and why?[...] In addition to the what you are minimally required to discuss (as just described), there are other more subtle issues raised by the dialogue between the three friends that are worthy of discussion....

Despite the evidence of this new construction, I would recommend that it be avoided and that the standard forms be used.

In the 1940s there was a humorous popular song in the U.S. titled "Doin' the What Comes Naturally." Part of the song's humor derived from the "the what" in the lyrics. Now it seems that that song was a harbinger of the future development of the language.

Marilyn Martin
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