Who or Whom?

Johnny Carson’s earliest fame came from the 1950s and 1960s game show “Who do you trust?” I remember that the title itself was, by some, considered grammatically incorrect; the critics preferred “whom.” Language changes over time. New words are added, words become less used, some words are just dropped altogether. And no, don’t get me started on political correctness restricting our usage of choice words. This post isn’t about PeeCee.

The conversation about which word,  who or whom, is discussed in an article by R.L.G. [I haven’t a clue why the author doesn’t use a name, but uses only initials. I’ve never seen that in journalism before.] in the Economist. The following  paragraph illustrates the changes in language and usage:

It’s hard to say anything new about “whom”, but it does raise a broader question: how to think about these questions. The facts are pretty plain: in formal, edited writing, whom is holding its ground. For those lawyers and professors who can’t use it correctly, there is usually a copy editor who will make the change for them.  At the other end of the spectrum is everyday speech, where “whom” has all but drawn down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. Mark Liberman has found that “who” is 218 times more common in “whom” in one corpus of recorded, spontaneous speech.  In books, the ratio is something more like 10 (“who”) to 1 (“whom”).  The graph above exaggerates the decline of “whom”, since “who” has also declined.  (People today may be more likely to write “the man standing there” than “the man who is standing there”.)   But “whom” has declined relatively more than “whom”.

Now here’s the thing that is most bothersome to me. And here’s the question I posed to several Christian bloggers posting articles offering their interpretation of Biblical scriptures: “Are you English? The reason I ask is that you consistently place your commas and periods outside quotation marks.” Unfortunately for me, I tend to want to discount an American who so blatantly misuses American English.

In the article from the Economist are a number of examples of what I’m talking about. Here’s one:

It’s hard to say anything new about “whom”,

Notice the comma at the end of this clause? It is outside the ending quotation mark. This is correct if English. But it is incorrect usage in American English.

While I didn’t dig into the author specifically, I do know that The Economist is an English publication, and that it is edited in London. Voila. English. That explains it completely.

As for the two bloggers that are offering their opinion on Biblical scripture, neither answered my question. In taking a look at each of them, both are living in America, one in Florida and the other in Iowa.

I understand typographic errors occur, and occur here in even the best of publications, and certainly appear in JonahzSong from time to time. But consistent use of incorrect grammar makes me wonder about the validity of the author’s view on the Biblical matter being explained or preached or discussed. This isn’t a definitive measure of the worth of the article; it is, however, like a red flag that is raised. Then I must more carefully consider the content of the teaching, the view expressed, and so forth.

It is also easy for me to turn away from spoken teaching when the preacher is obviously using poor grammar.

However, by being so nit-picky, I could easily turn from one of the best modern-day preachers I’ve heard in a long while. He is Pastor Kenneth Harger. He uses colloquial American English in his sermons. He is a simple, down-to-earth preacher that takes a passage and discusses it in a no-nonsense way illuminating its great and almost hidden truth. In doing so, Pastor Harger displays his own tender heart that has obviously been tuned by Spirit. Check out one of his sermons at Shiloh Community Church Messages.  Scroll down to select the message entitled His Glory Our Reward delivered on March 10, 2019.

These are some of the things I’ve been thinking about lately. And as I’ve considered them, and began to write about them, the L-RD has opened my eyes my nit-picky, arrogant thinking. I was reminded that Yeshua called simple sinners:

1He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (From Luke 19)

I was also reminded that he called the common, ordinary people of the world:

18While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”b 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. (From Matthew 4)

Yeshua called the simple sinner, the tradesman, those so often despised by the religious community. And Yeshua taught them by living with them, by His example, by granting them Spirit. Yeshua gave them wisdom to speak His truth, to teach others that all may follow Yeshua, and know the Father.

L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine. . .


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