murky days on the WHO/WHOM front

Benjamin Fortson fortson at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Mon Apr 1 15:17:50 UTC 2002

> Agreed. Maybe because it's hard to hear, being not nearly so distinct in
> sound between the two forms as  he/him, she/her, they/them, we/us; & thus
> doesn't get well imprinted on the language faculty during the early years?
> AM

A possibility worth considering, I suppose, although I'd like to
see evidence that child learners don't hear the distinction--something I
guess I  rather doubt, given how adept they are at picking up
extraordinarily subtle acoustic cues for everything else (not that they
are always analyzed the "correct" way, from the point of view of their
parents' grammars, of course...) I've personally never found "whom"
particularly hard to hear, myself. I suspect the loss of "whom" is
probably the result of various morphosyntactic reanalyses rather than
phonological ones.


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