whom in OED inaccuracy

Fri Sep 18 00:27:01 UTC 2009

        While I think it is quite true that there are some constructions
in which "whom" is the natural choice in colloquial speech, I notice
that there are many examples in which "who" sounds quite natural, even
though it follows a preposition.  Looking at the MWDEU article on "who,
whom," I see the following examples in uses by educated speakers or

King Lear:      Albany:  Run, run, O, run!
                Edgar:  To who, my lord?  Who has the office?

Hamlet: Polonius:  What is the matter, my lord?
                Hamlet:  Between who?
                Polonius:  I mean, the matter that you read, my lord?

Faulkner:       And he said, Well, haven't you got any opinion at all
about them? And I said, About who?

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Randy Alexander
Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2009 7:34 PM
Subject: whom in OED inaccuracy

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

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",

The objective case of WHO: no longer current in natural colloquial

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natural colloquial speech it is no longer current unless preceded by a

Randy Alexander
Jilin City, China
My Manchu studies blog:

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

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

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