Smart kid

Reported by Ellen Seebacher on Google+ today:

My thirteen-year-old, during a discussion of prescriptive vs. descriptive grammar and constructions on their way out in English:

“So ‘shall’ isn’t exactly packing its bags and walking out the door like ‘whom’, but it’s winding down the conversation and looking at the clock?”

He’s pretty much got it down. Shall and whom will probably be around for a long time, but only in very restricted contexts (“Shall we dance?”, “someone of whom I’ve heard a lot”). So they’ve packed their bags and are sitting in a little corner by the door.

(I was startled to re-read a paper of mine from 1968 a few days ago and was startled to see academese like “We shall show”, where I’d now write “I will show” or “I’ll show”.)

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