Friday, February 3, 2012

For Whom: The Bell Tolls.

At least, I hope it does.  "Who" vs. "Whom" (or is it "Whom" vs. "Who"), is one of those great bugaboos constantly plaguing grammarians among us. Well, I, for one, don't think it's worth the trouble.

Let's look at a few others on the list first.  Some only come up as problems in writing.  You're/your, their/there/they're, it's/its, who's/whose...these, you can't get into trouble when you're speaking.  They're homophones! If you're writing, frankly, the rules are really simple but I'll admit my brain goes into vapor-lock sometimes and I have to look them up again - at least the latter ones on the list.

I look up desert/dessert regularly when writing but unless you hear with some sort of weird dialect, you'll never confuse the two by the way I pronounce them.

There are a ton more of them on the list, and I don't really have a problem with trying to get people to use the right ones in the right places.

But whom?  Fuck whom!  I mean, c'mon...it's useless.  It's archaic.  Dump the bastard!

I know some of you are going to go ahead and trot out the important distinction between the two, but I don't give a shit.  I can't, off the top of my head, tell you when "whom" should be used and I REFUSE TO LOOK IT UP!  Because I don't care!

You know when I'll use "whom"?  When I'm writing dialog for some guy who is supposed to be speaking in a time period before we got smart and dumped "whom"!  The story will also include a pantsload of "Thees" and "Thous" and a couple of "Thines" for good measure.

I'M NOT AMISH!  We don't need no stinkin' "Whoms"!

You want to know the other time "whom" comes in handy?  When some asshole is trying to sound smart and comes off sounding dumb because they use it wrong.  And use it so wrong(ly) that even I notice.


Forsooth, methinks I'd lief jetison "whom", and eftsoons be pleased no longer to swink away trying to decipher this particular hugger-mugger.  And if I've used any of the archaic words in the previous sentence in error, and you feel the need to rub my nose in it, well...fuck youm too.
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I shall now return to being adorable and congenial. Thank you for your patience.

14 comments:

Jeri said...

Yeah, whom giveth a rollicking good fornication?!

But much more importantly, you know the phrase that was drilled into your head: i before e except(accept, mwahahahahaha) after c? Did you know there was more to that? Were you EVER taught the rest of that little ditty? I was 30 years old before someone said the complete thing and I remember feeling so... so cheated!

And even more importantly, we need to get rid of every word in the English language that's derived from French. And if one more person I'm transcribing speaks a little phrase of French I'll hunt them down and rip out their tongue. I can't even get close enough in spelling to find a translation in Google, and I can do Maori, ferchrissake.

My least favorite word is liaison even though I can finally spell it without looking it up. Oh, and entrepreneur.

Nathan said...

Il est bien à tous, Jeri.

And yes, liaison is could only be spelled more stupidly if we worked at it.

Anne C. said...

I effin' hate the i-before-e "rule" because there are more exceptions than the rhyme describes. Does it address "weird?" NO!

A mnemonic I use to remember "desert" vs. "dessert" is that dessert has sugar and an extra S and desert has neither (which, by the way, is also an unmentioned exception).

vince said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vince said...

What about all the Whoms down in Whomville, the tall and the small? Hmmm? What about them?

I was taught that, in general, when deciding which word to use, first substitute "he/him" or "she/her" in the sentence. If either "he" or "she" makes the most sense, use "who." If either "him" or "her" makes the most sense, use "whom." If you're still in doubt, say the sentence out loud using both words, and whichever sounds best, use. Why? Even grammar experts sometimes disagree on when to use which word.

Nathan said...

Vince,

I knew you'd be the one to "trot out the distinction"...and I DON'T CARE!. I can figure out when to use thee instead of thou. I just don't bother. It's USELESS.

So let's try the rule anyway.

Whom went to the store?

Tommy: the rock opera by The Whom.

Whom's on first.

LALALALALALA, I can't hear you!

Tommy: the rock opera by The Whom.

W

John Healy said...

Oddly, I was listening to a Whom cover Eric had posted on Standing on the shoulders of giant midgets as I read this. Can you spell "Substitute"? Can I?

Warner said...

Who is the subject, whom the object.

Be glad it isn't Latin, in which there are five forms and 5 declensions some with multiple forms

Nathan said...

Who is a perfectly good word. Whom is a sucky one.

What part of "Don't bother trying to explain it to me" don't you people get?

P.S. Butt declensions keep you toned.

Warner said...

Conjugating is best done in private however.

Random Michelle K said...

Really? I didn't think it was that hard. To whom is this rant directed? Who wrote this rant?

If you're not going to end your sentences in prepositions, you need whom.

Also, I remember learning the whole "i before e except after c or when sounding like "ay" was in neighbor and way" and just tacked on, "and weird is weird."

Not that it did me a damned bit of good, since I can't spell for shit. But I can RECITE the thing.

Nathan said...

The thing is, when reciting the alphabet, E always comes before I and they're both after C.

And even though I'm just giving you a hard time, I'm pretty sure there are even more exceptions. I'll let you know when I run across them.

Megan said...

I can't believe I, Grammar Nazi Extraordinaire, am coming to this late.

Vince is correct: use the "he/him" trick. But I admit that I am not particularly good at using "whom". It does not roll easily from my tongue or drip from my fingers when pounding out my bile-drenched grammar rants. If pressed, I will use "he/him" to figure it out, but I'd rather not be pressed.

Nathan said...

I will use "he/him" to figure it out, but I'd rather not be pressed.

All easily dealt with by ditching on crappy little "m". See? You're more than half way to joining my team. Give in. You know you want to!