Who vs Whom on Campus

Gazoo_Front

On the front page of today’s Montreal Gazette there is an article about yesterday’s protest at McGill University. Concordia and McGill students decried the schools’ administrations lack of action on sexual misconduct accusations. Clearly an issue of great importance.

But let me disrupt your thoughts on these allegations for a moment and turn to another important issue; grammar. The photograph above accompanied the front page story. What caught my eye was the poster asking “Who are you protecting”.  Aside from the lack of a question mark, I wonder if “Whom are you protecting?” would have been a better choice.

In the 1950s Johnny Carson hosted a game show called Who Do You Trust which is often cited not just for Johnny’s witty retorts, but for the grammar question.

Now, I am far from a grammar expert, but the folks at Grammar Matters provide this explanation:

Rewrite a simple sentence, using he or him in place of who or whom, and rephrasing the sentence appropriately. For instance, “Who do you trust?” may not sound wrong to you. But “Do you trust he?” certainly does. You can see that it would be “Do you trust him?” so you know it should be “Whom do you trust?”

So, “who are you protecting” becomes “are you protecting he?”Nope, that’s not it. “Are you protecting him?” makes a better sentence, which means whom is the way to go. As a graduate of McGill I can only hope the holder of the poster is a Concordia student!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Coming Attractions: Bridget Jones’ Apostrophe S

bridgetjones

When I was a boy going to grade school, way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, tramping five miles to and fro, somehow uphill both ways, they taught us English grammar. We parsed sentences and memorized irregular verbs til the cows came home. They pounded rules into our fertile young minds, then just as hard they pounded in the exceptions.

The exceptions were words that already ended in S or X, such as Alex’ shoes or Gus’ cookies. These exceptions were pronounced as if there was no apostrophe …

One of the rules that was driven home was the concept of possession and the apostrophe S. To indicate possession an apostrophe S is added as in Bill’s desk or Mary’s car. The exceptions were words that already ended in S or X, such as Alex’ shoes or Gus’ cookies. These exceptions were pronounced as if there was no apostrophe:  I really enjoyed Gus cookies, not GusES.

apstyleAll was well until some kid went to London and visited St. James’s Park, located a mere jeweled-orb’s throw from Buckingham Palace. This certainly put a spanner in the works.The recent release of the film Bridget Jones’s Baby has given me pause for thought. So I did a little research. According to Mignon Fogerty, Grammar Girl at QuickandDirtyTips.com it is all a matter of choice of style. The Associated Press Stylebook recommends the method that I am familiar with, no added S, just an apostrophe, while Fowler’s Modern English Usage suggests using the additional S.

That is fine and dandy for the written word, but when it comes to saying these phrases we were taught not to emphasize all those S sounds. So while I would write the name of the film Bridget Jones’ Baby I would pronounce it Bridget Jones Baby.

Ain’t English fun?

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Scotiabank: You Cannot Be Both New and Improved!

In a current television ad for Canadian bank Scotiabank there are two very irksome aspects.

  1. Yet again I find myself pointing out that it is impossible to be both new and improved.
  2. The kind lady in the ad manages to move a few things around and save the young lad $1500 so he can take his father on a road trip. He is very pleased with this and thanks her. I wonder if it ever occurs to him that they had been screwing him out of $1500 until she moved things

Someone once asked Formula 1 race car driver Jacques Villeneuve if he gave it a little something extra when he raced on the track named for his late father. He casually answered “No”. Further explaining that if he could give something extra in one race, he was not doing his job in the others. He was stating that it was incumbent upon him to give 100% at all times when racing.

I think the Scotiabank folks might want to reconsider this ad, as it implies the adviser only did what she was supposed to do because the guy needed a few bucks, when she should have been doing it all along.

 

 

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

My “New and Improved” Hobbyhorse

Here I go again. Just when I thought it was safe to read packages once more I was confronted with yet another “new and improved” claim.

An entity can no more be both new and improved that can it be both round and square. By trumpeting the improved nature of the product the advertisers imply that an earlier version existed and has been improved upon. Yet if the product is also new, what is being improved upon?

The photo on the left, claiming to be both new and improved, is an annoyance to me. The photo on the right explaining that an existing product now has a new look, and has been improved upon is anything but an insult to my intelligence. I don’t know how my Francophone colleagues feel about the word ‘look’, but from a proper English point of view it is an exemplary bit of marketing.

Sorry about riding my hobbyhorse yet again, but blame the Brita people, not me!

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Irritable Vowel Syndrome

Irritable Vowel Syndrome – something has to change yventually!

©DCMontreal 2014

©DCMontreal 2014

 Cause, Meet Effect.

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+