whom in OED inaccuracy

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 18 01:01:22 UTC 2009

Well, Randy should note that the environment for retention of _whom_
isn't simply "after a preposition." In the example cited, the relevant
environment is in the environment "after_*most* of_," not a trivial


On Thu, Sep 17, 2009 at 8:27 PM, Baker, John <JMB at stradley.com> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Baker, John" <JMB at STRADLEY.COM>
> Subject:      Re: whom in OED inaccuracy
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>        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
> writers:
> 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
> 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 The objective case of WHO: no longer current in natural colloquial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 natural colloquial speech it is no longer current unless preceded by a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:
> http://www.bjshengr.com/manchu
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