The Grammar Nazi Strikes Again

This past week in Montreal I met an interesting fellow who works in speech pathology and who knows a fair bit about linguistics. He posited the following sentence, which apparently is an example of the type of linguistic logic that some linguists have suggested is what English is morphing into:

“The boy that the girl that the car hit saw fainted.”

Now the questions that he posed to me, that I now pose to you, are:

1. Is this English?

2. What is happening in the sentence? That is, who’s doing the hitting, fainting, seeing and car driving?

Clearly, this is not standard grammar. If it were presented in a school essay, I trust the teacher would take exception. That’s not the discussion before us. Rather, is there intrinsic clausal logic in the sentence, and thus should it qualify as English?

The Grammar Nazi strikes again.