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Keo recognized the scent of a black man and tried to raise his head high enough to bite him. Seeing which Gouie spoke in the hippopotamus language, which he had learned from his grandfather, the sorcerer: "Have peace, little one; you are my captive."

Source: https://americanliterature.com/author/l-frank-baum/short-story/the-laughing-hippopotamus

I found the usage of "which" in the sentence above a little bit odd. If there were "it" this would make more sense: When he saw it, Gouie spoke… But why "which"?

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Seeing which, Gouie spoke...

Seeing that aforementioned thing, Gouie spoke...

There was a car broken down on the shoulder ahead being hauled up onto a tow truck, seeing which, he moved into the outer lane.

The use of which in this way is related to the following use, with which you are no doubt more familiar:

There was a stew simmering on the burner, the smell of which made him very hungry.

I suspect that what is confusing you in the original is the participle, in light of which, I offer this paraphrase:

Keo recognized the scent of a black man and tried to raise his head high enough to bite him, in light of which, Gouie spoke in the hippopotamus language, which he had learned from his grandfather...

You're familiar with the use of which as the object of a preposition (the smell of which, in light of which) and now you understand that which can also be the object of a verb. It is a somewhat dated use.

He felt the weight of the shillings|silver dollars in his pocket, having which, he decided to stop by the pub|saloon for a beer.

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  • No, the participle does not confuse me at all. It is just the use of "which" which very often indicates the relative clause but I did not know to which noun is "which" in my sentence related. – bart-leby Jul 7 '17 at 11:18
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    I tried with my first example to show you that it does not relate necessarily to a single noun but to "that aforementioned thing" -- it can be an action or activity occurring or fact presented in the prior clause, as is also the case with in light of which. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 7 '17 at 11:20

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