whom in OED inaccuracy

Randy Alexander strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 17 23:34:22 UTC 2009

I just got back from a trip to Australia, the purpose of which was to
consult with Rodney Huddleston about an English grammar textbook I am
writing.  While I was there, I received an email from a friend in
Beijing that contained "xxx of yyy, who* many of us have known only
virtually up until now".  He facetiously added "*Beijing is a
whom-free zone".

I asked Rodney if he thought "whom" was dying, and he said no, very
few speakers would accept constructions like "most of who".

I don't know if there is a newer online version of the OED that I
cannot access, but the one that I can access, just under the headword
"whom", says:

The objective case of WHO: no longer current in natural colloquial speech.

This is inaccurate.  Perhaps the entry could be modified to say that
in natural colloquial speech it is no longer current unless preceded
by a preposition.

Randy Alexander
Jilin City, China
My Manchu studies blog:

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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