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There are people who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves.

I should know better than to question Jane Austen, but I wondered if such a use of 'who' is common in modern language. 'Who', I've been taught, should serve as a pronoun. Wouldn't that make the first 'them' unnecessary?

Thanks in advance.
Comments  
Hi,

I think that in the original text, there was a comma after 'people'.

I wouldn't say it's common today, but it's certainly not archaic. It's a rather formulaic construction.

Clive
Thanks, Clive.
I apologise for misquoting it.

But with a 'who' there, shouldn't we leave out the first 'them'? Perhaps something like 'There are people, for whom the more you do, the less they will do for themselves'?
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ChristanfordThere are people who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves.
Is this in Austen's own voice or does she put it in the mouth of one of her characters? Just curious.

CJ
Hi,
It isn't a line said by any character. It's in the first paragraph of chapter 11, volume 1, of Emma.
I see your point, and I too am interested to hear the answer. Maybe it is slightly idiomatic--a rare exception...
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ChristanfordHi,
It isn't a line said by any character. It's in the first paragraph of chapter 11, volume 1, of Emma.

Thank you. In that case we can't say that Austen was trying to depict one of her characters as the type of person who used awkward grammatical constructions. Emotion: smile

The fact is, there are at least a small number of people who blithely use constructions in which the relative pronoun is repeated as another pronoun within the relative clause. Maybe they are thinking faster than the grammar machine in their heads can keep up with. I don't know what Jane's problem was.

Did you notice the blond woman who that man in the suit shook hands with her? That's the man that his house is for sale. I'll bet she's going to buy that house. You know -- the one on Harris Street that they painted it a really nice cream color last year. They say it's filled with expensive antiques that he and his wife went to Europe and bought them there over the years.

Emotion: smile

CJ
Thanks a lot, CJ. Emotion: smile