Saturday, August 21, 2004

To whom should go the blame?

James J. Kilpatrick's language column this week deals with "who" and "whom." A reader suggested they be abolished.

Kilpatrick protests: "The old fellows aren't dead or dying. They're only snoozing. There's life in them yet."

And I learned that the words' deaths have been predicted for some time:
Grammarian Richard Grant White observed in 1870 that "whom" was "visibly disappearing." In "The American Language" (1936), H.L. Mencken echoed the prediction. He thought "whom" was "fast vanishing." In 1980, critic Anthony Burgess reported that "whom" was "dying out in England."


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