The Bell Tolls For Whom

February 21st, 2006 · 2 Comments
by Booksquare

Even for regular practitioners, the English language is the stuff of nightmares. You’re talking along and then, boom!, do you use the subjunctive case? Is there another case that might be better? It’s a wonder any conversation, much less written material, is accomplished.

Don’t get us wrong: we believe the convoluted nature of our language is what sets us apart from, oh, the French and their crazy insistence on assigning gender to everything. But whom? If there’s a concession the language can make (and, note, we are only asking for one), let it be the loss of “whom”. Purists might whine, but will the world stop turning*?

It’s time to take a stand for logic and, yes, welcome non-native speakers to their new home.

Avoidance is the first refuge of the grammatically insecure, but it seems feeble to dump a good headline because of a bad rule.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, like you would have resisted the urge to play with Hemingway?

* = The answer, by the way, is no. The planet will continue to turn no matter how much we toy with the English language. And, yes, we’ve done the necessary scientific research to know this for a fact.

File Under: Square Pegs

2 responses so far ↓

  • Debra Hamel // Feb 22, 2006 at 7:46 am

    You meant the subjunctive mood! 🙂

    I like “whom” okay. The more pressing problem, in my book, is agreeing on some gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun, or in erasing the stigma that attaches to using “they” or “them” for the purpose. You know, “If anyone wants a stuffed penguin, give one to….him or her? them?” I prefer “them,” but I don’t want people to throw things at me.

  • Kirsten // Feb 23, 2006 at 6:14 am

    I’d lobby, first, to be able to use prepositions at the end of sentences. It’s an accepted, even ingrained pattern in spoken English, and avoiding it in written English makes the sentence in question overly complicated and formal . . .