Issue 170, page 3

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curmdgeon.GIF (1254 bytes) Curmudgeons' Corner

Guestmudgeon Karen North-Hurst is one who likes who

I want to kick a speaker's shins when I hear: "The people that blah, blah, blah. . . ." or "The man that blah, blah, blah." Have they never heard of the pronoun who? Are they unable to differentiate between animate, sensate beings and objects?

This one gets us, too.  Here's what Fowler (The New Fowler's Modern English Usage) has to say on this issue:

Normally use who as the relative pronoun following a human antecedent and that (or which) following an inanimate antecedent.  Either who or that may be used when the antecedent is animate but not human, or when the antecedent is human but representative of a class or is an indefinite pronoun.  In contexts containing a double antecedent, of which the first is human and the second is inanimate, that is naturally required (he answered accusingly . . . as though it was she and not the drug that had done it).

Have you heard or read similar or equally distressing usages?

Do tell us. 

Read this before commenting on this week's Curmudgeons' Corner

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