Whom Has Died

The Times has learned that Whom has passed away after a long, lingering illness. Few details have emerged, although speculation is that the cause of death was indifference. Whom, of Latin origin, leaves no immediate survivors. A sole sibling, Whomever, passed away many years earlier. One distant cousin, Who, survives, but the bitter rivals rarely appeared together.

When robust, Whom was known for maintaining a high profile. He (or she–gender indeterminate) regularly insisted on jumping to the head of the line, as in “Whom may I say is calling?” and “To Whom it may concern.” Whom was particularly proud of surviving a frontal assault by Johnny Carson’s quiz show “Who Do You Trust?” that aired on ABC from 1957-1963. “I beat that upstart,” Whom would boast, although some observers suspect that the lingering effects of the 6-year struggle sealed Whom’s fate.

In recent years Whom regularly lost to Who in competition for jobs and prestige. The final blow, Whom’s supporters say, was when Twitter chose Who over Whom to fill the prestigious slot, “Who to Follow.”

Whom reportedly drowned his (or her) disappointment at a bar near Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. “I was born for that job. It was made for me,” Whom told the bartender before passing out.

Whom’s passing has drawn scant attention. Only one word, As, issued a public statement. “I understand Whom’s feelings of rejection. I was the subordinating conjunction of choice until that damn Winston campaign came along. ‘…..like a cigarette should.’ Awful English, but it blew me away, and, frankly, I have been depressed ever since.”

No national observance is planned; however, small groups have been springing up at some private colleges and in a few churches, most of them Episcopalian. These ad hoc organizations, determined to bring Whom back, are uniting under the name, “In Whom We Trust.” Contributions may be made on the group’s website, InWhomWeTrust.org.

28 Responses to “Whom Has Died”

  1. Patricia Lamiell 31. Mar, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    So has “curricula.” The single and plural form is now “curriculum.”

    • John Merrow 31. Mar, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

      And don’t get me started on the mass confusion surrounding ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘myself.’ So many people seem to have become insecure about I and me and now just automatically use ‘myself,’ whatever the sentence. ‘He gave the tickets to Joan and myself.’ Or ‘Joan and myself went to the movies last night.

      I love the sports announcers most of all–or maybe I should say I blame them. ‘There seems to be a disagreement between he and the coach.’ and so on…

      Of course both W and Obama have said (approx) ‘I want to thank all of your for joining Laura (Michelle) and I in this campaign effort to improve (education) (America) (the middle class)…..

      • Laura Conley 31. Mar, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

        How sad for those of us who did not grow up speaking English. We conquered the grammar and its idiosynchrasies, and now much of these little plums are disappearing.

        I am particularly vexed by the use of “different than” instead of “different from.”

        We are probably tilting at windmills trying to preserve words until “tilting” disappear as well, and windmills have become aerial power generators.

        Laura Conley

      • Frank Daley 01. Apr, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

        Yes, this is just nuts!
        Language changes and all that but really, you should be able to get the basics right. It IS communication,m after all.

        “Goodnight. Call I tomorrow?”

        I love many “reporters” when speaking of an auto accident. “He was laying in the road.”
        (Scandalous really.) Laying eggs for sure.

        And practically all witness to anything: “I seen him running…”

        Here’s my favorite: “Well, firstable, you…”(and presumably then you do the next thing.

      • Jack Washburn 14. Apr, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

        John A great English lesson we both learned from our others. It still have to correct
        others when they have lost “whom, me, and other objects of prepositions”, even though
        I can’t type anymore.
        Cheers Jack and Barbara would love to see you in Mysic
        if you are in the area!

  2. Ted Fiske 31. Mar, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    Does that mean that Whom is no longer on first?

  3. Jim Geringer 31. Mar, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    The demise of Whom is, alas, accompanied by the passing of “Have” and the rapid procreation of “Got,” enhanced by the fertility treatment sponsored by AOL – “You’ve GOT Mail!” Now journalists, announcers and orators regularly behead HAVE into ‘ve, when they announce the acquisition of almost anything – We’ve Got, You’ve Got, They’ve Got…Mein Gott! What hath been wrought?
    Drop the GOT, use only HAVE!

    • Mark O'Keefe 31. Mar, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

      We’ve got to stop doing that.

    • John Merrow 03. Apr, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

      Glad you are going to be on the NAEP Governing Board, Governor

  4. Bob Rosenberg 31. Mar, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    Pronouns are the only place in English (except for possessives) where case matters, and it can’t die there fast enough. “For you and I,” “between he and the coach”–let’s just lose the distinctions, settle on case-neutral words, and stop beating people about the ears with it. So many so-called questions of grammar would evaporate, and meaning would not be affected in 99% of the usages.

    Now, if you want to whine, take a look at what’s happened to “regard” and “regards”! It is becoming universal to say, “In regards to that” or “with regards to that,” when the speaker doesn’t know the noun well enough to inquire about the children, much less send regards.


  5. Donald devet 31. Mar, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    Very clever. But take heat, we’ll always have “For Whom the Bell Tolls” even if it only tolls for thee.

    • John Merrow 31. Mar, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

      “Dear Mr. Hemingway,
      We like your manuscript a whole lot, a ton actually, but we think the title may put people off. How about we call it “Who’s that Bell Ringing For?”
      Scribner and Sons”

  6. Steve Buckley 31. Mar, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    Here are two more to add: alumna and alumnus. More and more frequently, I read about colleges and universities referring to a graduate as an alumni. One must wonder if the Latin on diplomas from these groves of academe translate into, “Do you want fries with that?”

  7. Professor Cynthia Maris Dantzic 31. Mar, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    To whom shall I send my message of disappointment?
    Who cares?
    I do,( not me do!)
    And I shall still go on correcting papers correctly, thank you.

  8. Jerry Sroufe 31. Mar, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    John — One does not have to read the item to know the answer to your question. But as a fellow curmudeon, I cannot bring myself to say, “For Who the Bell Tolls” Jerry

    • John Merrow 31. Mar, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

      In the new editions, it’s titled “Who’s That Bell Ringing for Anyway?”

  9. Amber 31. Mar, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    “Whom may I say is calling?” No. That is not and never will be correct. There is no reason to change a very simple rule just because there are three words separating subject and verb. Whom is not dead, just misunderstood.

  10. John Lehman 31. Mar, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    John – I have mixed feeling about whom’s passing. Objects of prepositions are seemingly passing into obscurity which is, I suppose, where they go after they die. Personally, I’d like to nominate “yet again” for the next firing squad. I assume that method would be faster that the prolonged death that seems to be required.

    Sports announcers, by the way, do not have a lock on the butchering pastime. Unfortunately many news readers and others in that profession, seem to be doing a fine job, too.

  11. Joanne Williams 31. Mar, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

    I mourn the “death” of Whom! But what about those other words that are being mauled and misused?
    When did the plural of anything become “is” as in: there’s a lot of cars on the road, today. Whatever happened to “are”???
    Then there is the word that makes me cringe every time I hear it … “of-ten” pronounced with a “t”.
    My English teacher and my mother taught me that the “t” was silent.
    Maybe the “t” in “often” is taking up the crusade of the dying “Whom”

  12. Ben 31. Mar, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    I would like to say I am in agreement with you all, but alas it seems that the usurper, “agreeance”, is posing a powerful threat. I will never be in agreeance with that!

  13. Frank 31. Mar, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

    Whom was never on first, or second, or third!

  14. Susan 31. Mar, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

    I banished “whom” from my lexicon over thirty years ago. It seemed outdated and a bit stuffy. I figured I could get along perfectly well without it.

    Hemingway didn’t give a fig about the grammatical correctness of the phrase “for whom the bell tolls.” He was quoting John Donne and he had other interests entirely.

    John Donne was writing in Elizabethan English. I love the language of Shakespeare. But it seems odd to write it now. Hemingway experimented with a sort-of Elizabethan English in “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” among other things using “thee” and “thou” to try to capture Spanish in translation. The result was not 100% successful.

  15. Curtis Johnson 01. Apr, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    Right on, with the “Death of Whom.” But you must realize, you place yourself at the precipice of a full Pandora here. The whole pronoun scene is a mess. I’ve given up telling teens that no sentence starts with “me.” Then there’s the ‘valley girl’ uptalk syndrome now filtered into a whole generation of Millennials, none of whom seems to understand that that uplift at the end of a non-question sentence is like fingernails over chalkboard to older (better educated?) people. The one that really mystifies me is the surge among females in the ‘little girl voice.’ NPR has several of these, some with both uptalk and little girl voices — and PhDs. So, a peril is larger than “whom.”

  16. John Merrow 02. Apr, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    I keep a stack of The Atlantic in our bathroom for occasional reading breaks, and this morning I happened upon Megan Garber’s clever piece about the demise of Whom, which she most certainly does not regret. It’s well worth your time: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/04/for-whom-the-bell-tolls/309266/

  17. Michael Shirley 03. Apr, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    “Whom” shall live for as long as I can form words and yell at passing strangers.

  18. Randall Bolten 07. Apr, 2014 at 2:47 am #

    I take a more cosmic and allegorical view of the whole matter — see http://bit.ly/1qdRs4Q. John, thanks for the heads-up!

  19. susan Landmann 08. Apr, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

    Who Is dead??

    Who has been missing
    for nearly a week
    Who hasn’t called
    There may be no connection
    to whom-
    But darkness
    is contagious
    related to whom
    who died in

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