Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Corporate Personhood and Grammar

I was doing some proofreading this morning and a bit of grammar caught my eye.  Normally inanimate objects are referred to as "that."  For example, this is the tree that fell.  Cars that explode should be banned.  And so on.  People are referred to as "who" or "whom."  Examples:  The candidate who won the election.  The woman who helped me is moving.  Group nouns seem to go either way:  The family that prays together stays together.  The people who lived next door had a pool.  Animals can also go either way.  The dog that bit me.  The cat who came to dinner.

Companies tend to be in the "that" category.  The company that bought them out.   The legal firm that did the work.  But since we have corporate personhood now, and corporations can, via their closely held status, have religious beliefs, will that change?  Will we have to say things like "it was Hobby Lobby who had the sale?"  Will certain corporations start to refer to themselves in that fashion?  "It was our corporation who donated to the charity?"  Not just, "it was our employees who" but "it was the corporation who ...."

Interesting discussion point for the grammar nerds.

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