X+preposition+Y, which/who/whose refers to X or Y?

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by divineacclivity » Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:29 am
edirik wrote:Dear SC experts,

I am quiet familiar with the concept that "which" does not have to refer to the closest noun as we can see from the MGMAT CAT question, which is right.

Although she had been known as an effective legislator first in the Texas Senate and later in the United States House of Representatives, Barbara Jordan did not become a nationally recognized figure until 1974, when she participated in the hearings on the impeachment of President Richard Nixon, which were televised nationwide.

In this context, "which" refers back to impeachment NOT to President Richard Nixon.

But I would like to know if this rule would also be applicable in other relative pronouns such as WHOSE, THAT and WHO.

For example, is it possible that those examples are true?

- Many daring vacationers who participate in guided boat tours on the Tarcoles River encounter native crocodiles lurking in the shallows, whose eyes and noses are peeking out from the surface of the murky water. (Whose refers back to crocodiles, possible?)

- The manager of the company, who earned a total of $5 Mio last year, will be laid off in two months. (Who refers back to manager, possible?)

Did you get your answer? If yes, could you please share it? Thank you.

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by Mission2012 » Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:45 am
Excellent question.

Experts please help.
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by Achilles_heel » Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:56 pm
Not an expert, but I will try to help
Firstly which here does not refer to impeachment. Impeachment is a singular noun, so can't agree with were. Which stands for Hearings here. "the impeachment of President Richard Nixon" here is a single noun phrase.

Regarding your second question:
Yes - whose,that & who also obey the rule of mission critical modifiers ( in MGMAT terms). But obviously that use has to be justified and should not create ambiguity. Though the second example is correct, the first one is incorrect due to multiple reasons.

a) Eyes and nose cannot peek out by themselves - that is the meaning conveyed by the sentence -( whose eyes and nose are peeking out). Crocodiles can lurk in shallows, with their eyes and nose peeking out.
b) whose can refer to daring vacationers or crocodiles - so ambiguity crops up.

I hope an expert can help further.