spelling correction

Phil Betts Phil.Betts@heis.co.uk
Wed Oct 6 13:45:00 GMT 2004

Alexander Gottwald wrote:
>On Thu, 30 Sep 2004, Thomas Munro wrote:
>> Hi,
>> On this page:
>> http://x.cygwin.com/docs/faq/cygwin-x-faq.html
>> there is a heading:
>> "11.4. Whom holds the copyright on the Cygwin/X source code?"
>> It should of course be "Who".
>> Sorry to send such trivial feedback to this list but your index
>> page give this address for such problems!

The links referred to in Harold's message only serve to prove him
wrong.  Yes, even the great can occasionally have an off day ;-)

I only mention this because the vehemence of Harold's rebuttal is
likely to persuade others that he is correct, and it wouldn't do to
perpetuate the confusion.

Simply follow the advice in the Guardian's entry:

  If in doubt, ask yourself how the clause beginning who/whom would
  read in the form of a sentence giving he, him, she, her, they or
  them instead: if the who/whom person turns into he/she/they, then
  "who" is right; if it becomes him/her/them, then it should be

In other words, "him holds the copyright" is nonsense, so "whom holds
the copyright" is nonsense.  "he holds the copyright" is fine, so the
correct form is "who holds the copyright".

Linguists generally call this sort of incorrect usage "hypercorrect".
This may be the source of Harold's confusion.  The term simply means
"wrong, but from the best intentions", and does not mean "very
correct".  Compare this with "over-correct": if the back end of your
car steps out and you over-correct the mistake, you *will* hit a tree,
just not the one you were originally avoiding!

Picks up soapbox and walks off into the sunset...



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