[LMB] to wit to whom

M. Haller Yamada thefabmadamem at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 14 10:07:32 BST 2016

Lois says:
It probably doesn't help that it's a sentence fragment in 3rd-person 
past-tense stream-of-consciousness.  Perhaps I shall just blame it on Miles.

For reference, the full passage in question goes:

To think that Illyan, whom he’d
known all his life, whom he’d assumed trusted him implicitly or why
else send him on a series of such distant, independent
missions. . . . He’d been proud to be so trusted, while still a young
officer, with so little direct supervision in his covert ops.

On another head, as a sentence fragment I see it ought to have the 
ellipsis without a period, aka a three-dot ellipsis.  While we're at it.

Micki: Grammar aside, since this is stream of consciousness, what would Miles 
say? Keeping in mind he's also several hundred years into the future (-:. 

Steven Pinker in The Sense of Style writes, "The popularity of *whom* humor tells 
us two things about the distinction between *who* and *whom*. First, *whom* has 
long been perceived as formal verging on pompous. Second, the rules for its 
proper use are obscure to many speakers . . . ."

Pinker strenghthens his case by saying, "Shakespeare and his contemporaries 
frequently used *who* where the rules would call for *whom* and vice versa, and 
even after a century of nagging by prescriptive grammarians the *who*-*whom* 
distinction remains tenuous in speech and informal writing."

Pinker does explain syntactic trees that can help you untangle if it's supposed 
to be a who or a whom, according to stuffy grammarians. 

And as Jim said about genuine linguists, Pinker also says, "Like the subjunctive 
mode, the pronoun *whom* is widely thought to be circling the drain." He 
champions whom's use in double questions like "Who's dating whom?" and fixed 

And finally, Pinker advises writers "to calibrate their use of *whom* to the 
complexity of the construction and the degree of formality they desire."

I say Miles wouldn't use whom. In the other cases you mention, I leave it up to 
how pioneering you want to be. Your written tones tends to strike me as rather 
formal and as being endowed with gravitas, so you may want to keep the non-
stream-of-conscious whoms. 


More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list