Another informal WH construction

In the spirit of my posting on to-infinitival interrogatives, or ToInt, which also mentioned Sluicing and WH echo / reclamatory questions, I offer yet another informal WH construction — which, like these others, is awkward with the formal pronoun whom (rather than neutral who) in object function. This is the exclamatory interrogative construction (or ExclInt) in

Where they went! What they did! (It’s just amazing!)

Like ToInt, ExclInt can occur not only on its own, but also as an argument of various main verbs expressing surprise:

Where they went is just amazing! [subject] / It’s just amazing where they went! [extraposed subject]

I just can’t believe what they did! [direct object]

I’m just amazed at what they did! [prepositional object]

In both main and embedded clauses, the construction is awkward with whom rather than who:

Where they went! What they did! Who / ?Whom they saw!

It’s just amazing who / ?whom they saw!

I just can’t believe who / ?whom they saw!

This is just what you’d expect, given the informal style of ExclInt, which is discordant with the formal style of whom.

 

2 Responses to “Another informal WH construction”

  1. The power of lore and dogma « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Another informal WH construction (link): on exclamatory […]

  2. with whom « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Another informal WH construction (link): on exclamatory […]

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