"which" = "who, whom"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Sep 7 12:37:51 UTC 2006

A Congressman on Fox News observes:

  "Last year we had 168,000 illegal aliens which we detained."

  I used to see this construction in freshman themes.  My impression is that "that" is far more common in colloquial speech than "who" (and, of course, "whom") in reference to human beings.  So why not "which" ?

  This is OED def. 9 ("Our Father which art in Heaven")  regarded now solely as "dial." except "in referring to people in a body."  I'm not sure that the Congressman's reference to 168,000 individuals counts as referring to them "in a body."


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