Here's a somewhat bold statement: We at Feather Three think the word 'whomever' is a largely irrelevant word in today's language, and so we're happy to replace it with the equally useful and far more commonly used 'whoever' in our designs. We're well aware that technically this is 'incorrect' grammar by traditional standards. 

If you don't like it, we'd like to very respectfully suggest you buy one of our other wonderful products, where the grammar is unambiguously correct. There are plenty!

Why does this matter? Well, on the whole, we really think that it probably doesn't, but since you're still here reading this article, we'll step onto our proverbial soapbox for a moment and lecture you about it. It's what you came here for, right? Thought so.

What we imagine prescriptivists look like when they see the shirt...

When it comes to grammar, there are two major approaches: Descriptive and Prescriptive. Prescriptive grammarians (yes, grammarians, such fancy, much grammar) generally concern themselves with establishing rules for how language should be used. Think of your 6th-grade teacher explaining the ironclad rules of punctuation to your distracted tween brain. For prescriptivists, there's a right way and a wrong way, and most people don't know the difference. And starting a sentence with 'and' (like this one!) is definitely the wrong way. If you twitched a little when you read that, you might be a prescriptivist.

Descriptive grammarians, on the other hand, tend to analyze how language is used by those who speak it and generalize rules from studying those interactions. They tend to be more interested in finding out how a particular group of people speak than deciding whether or not it is proper grammar. Think of the zen-ed out guy in your college dorm who, with absolutely no prompting, would point out that "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" is a grammatically correct sentence, technically speaking, and therefore all language is actually relative and negotiated and clearly that sentence is actually bullsh*t. Yes, we rolled our eyes a bit at him too.

Every time grammar gets brought up.

The truth of the matter is that, much like the yin and yang of Chinese philosophy, both perspectives are locked in a mutually beneficial grappling match, dependent on one another, and that language exists on the knife's edge between the two. We need the prescriptivists to give us some order for teaching, as well as reducing the functionally infinite possible complexities that could ensue if everyone developed their own personal flavors of official grammar, while the descriptivists keep the prescriptivists moored to the reality of what is happening as 7 billion people constantly re-negotiate the language that they literally embody and breathe. 

That was a lot, huh? Yeah, we're kinda tired just writing all of that. 

The upshot here is that in the case of 'whomever' we think the descriptivist position has it right: it's slowly fading into the dusty past. Current language and culture seem to be bending away from the utility of making the direct object of who into 'whom.' In formal language (manuals, speeches, your snooty aunt's tirades) we still see it's used, and probably will for years to come. However, in a casual or informal context, it's increasingly common to see the equally useful 'whoever' in use. It's more efficient (no pesky 'm' to type out) and prevents the user from seeming unnecessarily snooty or outdated. Wins all the way around. 

Ultimately, we as a brand would rather seem playfully casual than stuffily proper. Sometimes that means we have to break the rules of grammar and be okay with it. 

We hope you're okay with it too! 

If not... well, Joel still reads every customer email, so go ahead and send some vitriol-laden messages about how people like him are what's wrong with society, and that he's rotting the minds of our youths, one misused word at a time. 

He'll respond, whoever or whomever you are! ;) 

Happy dancing!

14 Responses


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