Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hallmark hypercorrection

I don’t know where my cable company gets descriptions for its programming. But I know that its description of the Hallmark movie My Christmas Love can be found here and there online:

A woman receives presents from an anonymous suitor who’s inspired by the “12 Days of Christmas,” and she tries to uncover whom the mysterious gift-giver is.
Who, not whom.

Just as whom is not to be confused with who, My Christmas Love is not to be confused with 12 Gifts of Christmas, a Hallmark movie in which an unemployed artist gets hired as personal shopper for an executive type. I know, twelve, right. But they are two entirely different movies.

[From the Garner’s Modern English Usage entry for hypercorrection: “Sometimes people strive to abide by the strictest etiquette, but in the process behave inappropriately. The very motivations that result in this irony can play havoc with the language: a person will strive for a correct linguistic form but instead fall into error. Linguists call this phenomenon ‘hypercorrection’ — a common shortcoming.” And from the same entry, on using whom for who: “Perhaps writers should get points for trying, but those who don’t know how to use whom should abstain in questionable contexts.”]

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