10 June, 2006

Grammar 101

Conrad has been doing the unthinkable, dear readers: looking for temporary work in London for the summer. It's a humiliating process, I can tell you. One agency sent me an online exam to complete before they signed me up; the first section was a test of general literacy and grammar skills. I got two questions wrong. When I say 'wrong', what I mean is 'right, but marked wrong'. You see, the high pedants who insist that my use of relative pronouns and modal verbs is correct are themselves guilty of bloody stupidity.

Bernard is the man WHO / WHOM I think is best.

Everyone backs HIS / THEIR own man.

I answered 'who' and 'his'. The former, because Bernard is not the object of 'I think', but the subject of 'is best'; the latter, of course, because 'everyone' is singular, as in 'everyone likes a smack in the face'. The exam told me that 'whom' and 'their' were correct. The former, presumably in confusion with 'Bernard is the man whom I detest'; the latter, presumably in a move towards gender-unspecific sloppiness. How flaccid the language can become. Are we to inculcate falsity as well as pedantry?

5 comments:

language said...

That's truly appalling. I would accept both answers in the second case, but your answer is the only correct one in the first. I weep for humanity.

Conrad H. Roth said...

Yes, I thought that might get your goat, LH! I was all ready to rip into them, if they asked about it at the subsequent interview; but they didn't, and in hindsight I'm glad I didn't mention it. I'm generally better at being right than at doing the right thing.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, Dude, that's harsh. Of course your answers are the only correct ones. All the best to you and Mrs. Roth from.....

your suegro

Gawain said...

its like people over in the US showing their good education by saying:

She gave he and I a headache.

That's from being told in high school to say "he and I" instead of "me and him".

Funny, "me and him" would have been correct, of course.

Cases are vestigial in English already, and, i suppose, this illustrates they will be gone rather sooner than later.

Man, having to take tests in order to take a job, what a humiliation. I empathize and am SOOO glad that's behind me.

Gawain said...

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