Monday, 2 July 2007

I rest my objective case.

I don't want to get all grammatically prescriptivist on your neighbours' asses, but "whom" is not posh for "who". On weekends I dress up in a moustache and trilby and wander the countryside militating for the Keep Whom Alive Society; nonetheless, even I - yes, I - would rather see "whom" fossilised forever in the peat bog of dead English than watch it writhing in the throes of unschooled abuse.

Remember: "To whom should I bequeath my trilby? Should I bequeath it to her or him?", but "Who is that stealing my trilby? By Jove, I think it might be the milkman!"

P.S. I know, what with the conversational tone and the direct commands and all, that it looks like I'm talking to you, comrades, but actually these paragraphs are for the benefit of the young scholars, who, here's hoping for all our sakes, never find their way hither. God bless 'em. Come to think of it - whom am I kidding? - they're for my benefit, aren't they? This is one of those moments, self, where we realise it's just me, and me, and those good old objective relative pronouns.

17 comments:

TimT said...

Or, to put it in couplets:

To whom should I bequeath my Trilby?
For Gad! By Jove! Why, here comes Philby!

A cad! A rogue! Who has purloined my Trilby?
Could it be that bounder Philby?


Idea for a television series: DR WHOM, about a person who roams from past tense to future tense pursuing a villain called 'Philby', accompanied by a Zeugma from Mars.

alexis said...

The couplets are as perfect as a freshly brushed Homburg, but I'm not sure about "Dr Whom". I think it could well muddy the who/whom waters.

trixie said...

lex, i relate to your objective.

TimT said...

Better than objecting to your relatives, I'm sure.

Adrian said...

...I dunno, I thought "Dr Whom" was kinda funny...god knows I'd watch it!

Adrian said...

ps Dr Whom, I presume?

alexis said...

Catri, you are a lady who knows what's what.

Adrian, I meant no slur on Mr T's funniness. It's just I've been recently exposed to sentences like "Atwood is a Canadian author whom has written many novels". So I have the fear.

Tony T. said...

Naturally, Dr Whom's arch nemesis would be the English Master.

alexis said...

I'm starting to doubt Dr Whom's qualifications. Doctorates are a dime a dozen on the intertubes these days.

Epiphanous Christopher said...

My all-time-fave line from the Simpsons is Sideshow Bob's to the kids when he takes over Krusty's show:

"Whom," he thunders, "do you love?"

Maria said...

off topic, muchly

I remember being told not to end my sentences with "to". It was "To where you are going" not "Where you're going to" To whom you're sending that" not "Who you're sending that to"

But then came that day when the lady near me said "It's what you're used to" ... I tried to say "No! It's .... 'It's to what you're used' I mean ..." It all sounded so jarring.

I solved it by saying, to the dear lady, whom we shall call "Annie", "It's what you're used to, Annie."

Phew. Sentence didn't end in "to".

Maria said...

I have no objection to Dr Whom. Subject us to it, TimT.

TimT said...

Hmmm...

- Where are you going with that tutu to?

- Tuvalu is where I am going with this tutu to.

- Are you taking my Toto too with your tutu, if it is Tuvalu you are going to?

- I am taking the two: tutu and Toto, too: that's two in toto. And now I am off, going Tuvalu to!

You're right. It sounds dreadful!

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said...

Why no mention of me, TimT?

(Did you know I also answer to the moniker Archmoderator Despot Toto?)

TimT said...

I'm sure the good Archbishop must have cut a fine figure with the Phillipines' former Cardinal Sin.

alexis said...

Maria, I don't subscribe to the no-preposition-at-end-of-sentence thing, but is "to" actually functioning as a preposition in "It's what you're used to"?

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