LarryLatham wrote:"It was not a decision he had expected Massingham to welcome, and nor had he."
Had I supplied more context, you would have easily known that the first "he" was Dalgliesh, and the second "he" refers to Massingham, for those of you who are familiar with the characters in P. D. James' novels. I apologize for not realizing that the meaning might not be clear. It was clear to me because I knew the context.
If you're not familiar with her novels, you're really missing something wonderful. James is a terrific writer, and I believe her use of the language is exemplary. For those who are wondering about the characters, Adam Dalgliesh is a Detective Commander at Scotland Yard, in charge of an elite new (in this novel) detective unit assigned to handle particularly sensitive major cases. (In this novel, a member of the British Parliment is found dead in the vestry of a church, with his throat cut.) Massingham is a Detective Chief Inspector who works for Dalgliesh, and the decision he might not welcome is that he was left behind to supervise the forensic team at the church, while Dalgliesh took Detective Inspector Kate Miskin with him to interview members of the victim's family.
I am tuned, as most of you likely are too, to notice unusual instances of English usage. I often come into focus while reading or listening to English when something "out of the box", so to speak, occurs. But being an amateur linguist as well as an ex-teacher, I am not so quick to pronounce judgment upon uncommon examples of English. My view is that while it is all well and good to have "standards" in your mind about how you, yourself, wish to use the language, finding fault with users who depart from your particular standards is another matter entirely. For openers, let's not forget that there are many "Englishes," and that there likely are different standards where regional differences are found. For another thing, let's also remember that our language is a living form, morphing over time into what contemporary users find convenient or salient for their needs. Who amongst us would suggest that Middle English is "correct", while modern forms are just "bad writing." What strikes me as interesting, time after time, is that unusual English often contains clues as to real, and sometimes not well understood, features of the language. We musn't kid ourselves into believing that we know all there is to know about English.
Sorry (Larry and others), but I don't see how anyone could have (have had) problems in understanding that there were two characters involved, the first=X (the first 'he'), and the second Massingham (to which the second 'he' "obviously" refers). It may not be great writing, but it seems clear enough (to me, anyway). Am I missing something?
(Yes! you cry - the joys of crime fiction, not to mention the finer points of AL discussion!
JTT before that wrote:I don't really understand your
"It was not a decision he had expected Massingham to welcome, and nor had he expected M to welcome it"
My point was that that (my a) way of construing things) would have been a repetitive thing to think on the basis of what was originally written, the implication being that my b) option should be the preferred choice/way of construing the situation.
JTT in continuation there wrote:and I'm no wiser as to whether the second "he" is the first "he" again or Massingham. Or yet another bloke?
It's just badly written.
I refer you again to my previous post:
I, FH wrote:Complete the sentence with either ellipted (=unnecessary?) fragment:
It was not a decision he had expected Massingham to welcome, and nor had he...
a) expected M to welcome it
b) welcomed it