Use of "who" referring to inanimate objects.

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Mega85
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Use of "who" referring to inanimate objects.

Postby Mega85 » Sat Mar 26, 2016 2:09 am UTC

Have you heard this? I've heard some people use "who" when referring to an inanimate object. It sounds odd to me. I'm at a fast food place and say what I'd like and they don't hear it and they respond "you'd like a who?". This has happened to me at times at restaurants and it sounds odd to me.

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Re: Use of "who" referring to inanimate objects.

Postby Fieari » Tue Sep 27, 2016 7:22 am UTC

I feel like this would sound right if said in a thick country / southern-belle style accent, and I think I've heard it when going on roadtrips through very rural areas. It definitely sounds strange to me though.
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Flumble
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Re: Use of "who" referring to inanimate objects.

Postby Flumble » Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:44 am UTC

In dutch I often do this to express disbelief/confusion or rhetorical questions, but never as a serious substitute for "what".

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Re: Use of "who" referring to inanimate objects.

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Sep 27, 2016 11:27 am UTC

Yeah, at least in the US south and midwest, it's a coy-to-cloying habit that's not really meant seriously, I think gradually going out of fashion. My grandmother will refer to an object among an assortment as "that little guy" and then call it "he" from there, etc.
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Re: Use of "who" referring to inanimate objects.

Postby CharlieP » Tue Sep 27, 2016 1:33 pm UTC

I've never come across it in the UK, but on a tangential note I like to respond to people who misspell "queue" as "que" by replacing it with "what", e.g.

"I was standing in the que".

"You were standing in the what?"

Petty and childish, I know, but it makes me chuckle every time. :lol:
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Re: Use of "who" referring to inanimate objects.

Postby siloguist » Wed Oct 05, 2016 1:50 pm UTC

CharlieP wrote:I've never come across it in the UK, but on a tangential note I like to respond to people who misspell "queue" as "que" by replacing it with "what", e.g.

"I was standing in the que".

"You were standing in the what?"

Petty and childish, I know, but it makes me chuckle every time. :lol:

Hahaha that's genius!

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Re: Use of "who" referring to inanimate objects.

Postby TvT Rivals » Fri Oct 28, 2016 5:36 am UTC

(Back to OP:) Better than the opposite, anyway.

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Re: Use of "who" referring to inanimate objects.

Postby mok-kong shen » Thu Nov 03, 2016 2:56 pm UTC

As foreigner I have a question: Would using "whose" referring to inanimate objects be problematic in the same vein?

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Zohar
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Re: Use of "who" referring to inanimate objects.

Postby Zohar » Thu Nov 03, 2016 4:26 pm UTC

Problematic in that it's not using the word as it is intended... "Whose" refers to something that belongs to someone. The answer would often involve "hers" or "his".

"Whose cookie is this?"
"It's mine/it's his/it's Zohar's/I don't know whose cookie it is"
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Re: Use of "who" referring to inanimate objects.

Postby HES » Thu Nov 03, 2016 4:37 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Problematic in that it's not using the word as it is intended... "Whose" refers to something that belongs to someone.

Why can't things can 'belong' to inanimate objects? "Whose lid/screw/remote is this"
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Re: Use of "who" referring to inanimate objects.

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Nov 03, 2016 5:04 pm UTC

It's ungrammatical for questions, but works for relative clauses.

"Whose leaves are these?" suggests that a person owns the leaves, but "This is the tree whose leaves look like hands," is generally considered fine (if a bit strange-sounding).
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Zohar
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Re: Use of "who" referring to inanimate objects.

Postby Zohar » Thu Nov 03, 2016 5:30 pm UTC

HES wrote:
Zohar wrote:Problematic in that it's not using the word as it is intended... "Whose" refers to something that belongs to someone.

Why can't things can 'belong' to inanimate objects? "Whose lid/screw/remote is this"

There's a sad joke about corporate personhood here.
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Derek
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Re: Use of "who" referring to inanimate objects.

Postby Derek » Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:48 am UTC

Zohar wrote:There's a sad joke about corporate personhood here.

I don't want to start a political discussion here, but you know that corporate personhood just means that corporations can act as legal entities, right? And they inherit some of the rights of natural persons because they are made up of people. And corporate personhood exists in almost every country.

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Zohar
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Re: Use of "who" referring to inanimate objects.

Postby Zohar » Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:03 pm UTC

I don't know enough about the topic to talk about it very confidently. Those rights may or may not have their place, but they certainly can (and sometimes do) expand into unwarranted and unwanted territory.
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