Search

Paul's Blog

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
Posted by on in SMD Blogs
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 1009

To Who or Whom It May Concern

When I first came to Canada to work as a newspaper reporter I sometimes found myself struggling to differentiate between Canadian Usage of English and just plain Bad Usage. Most of what triggered my spidey sense turned out to be Bad Usage. There’s a lot of bad usage out there. Hardly a day goes by without me hearing something on the radio that sets my teeth on edge. “Doesn’t that clown know what that word means”; “That’s just gibberish” - are two phrases which spring to the lips of my mind. One of the great things about the English language is that it is always evolving. Words and usages which I believed were perfectly acceptable were frowned on in the 1940s. I managed to get my hands on the British Government’s guide to good English usage from around 1948, “Plain Words”. It was an education in how much the language had changed in 35 years. The booklet slammed the BBC for murdering the English language – so obviously some things don’t change. I remember one of the editors here in Canada changing my “who” to “whom”. According to the style guides and grammar mavens, he was correct. But who these days uses “whom”? It comes over as pompous. That said, and at the risk of sounding like an old grouch, I can’t help feeling that the use of English is getting sloppier. And that means we’re not communicating as well as we need to. I think part of this is down to well-intentioned souls who argue against Language Fascism. Attempts to impose Latin rules on English, a Germanic language, have certainly led to some nonsense grammar rules. But if no-one is pushing back in the name of good usage, then the slide into incomprehensibility is accelerated.

 

0

Paul Cowan has not set their biography yet

Go to top