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Corporations As "Who"
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2013/05/26
10:46am
danomar
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I have a (proverbial) bone to pick with Grant and Martha. In the credits, you refer to organizations that support the show as “who.” I understand the desire to make supporters feel good about supporting the show. When did it become acceptable, however, to refer to non-human things as “who” rather than “that” or perhaps “which”? It is a small but significant thing. We can argue that U.S. laws give corporations status similar to humans, but in the world of language, a human is human and that is that.

Maybe my old Warriner’s is too worn, but I do not recall the word “who” being appropriate to anything other than something human.

Excuse the rant. I am better now. :-)

2013/05/28
2:21pm
Glenn
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Glad you feel better.

Collections of people have long been used with who. Consider family. There are examples of this use for centuries.

So if you consider a corporation to be a collection of people, rather than a monolithic, soulless, parasitic entity unflinchingly fixed on raping humanity with particular malice toward the poor and disabled, it could make some sense. Both nuances exist side by side [I have paraphrased somewhat]:
Corporation

Ngram of “family who” vs “family which” Note that these numbers may be inflated with instances such as “He was the one member of his wealthy family who did not believe in charitable causes.” in which it is not the “family who” but the “member … who.”

2013/05/29
11:52am
RobertB
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‘Whose’ is a good substitute for the proper forms that can be painfully stilted:
Corporations whose endorsements he seeks…
Corporations the endorsements from which he seeks…
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