Sunday NomConjObj

In the NYT Sunday Review on February 1st, an interview by Kate Murphy. Background:

Michel Nischan is a two-time James Beard Award-winning chef who founded and now runs Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit sustainable food advocacy group that has forged partnerships with health care providers nationwide to prescribe and make farm-fresh produce available in low-income communities.

And then in the section on “Playing”, Nischan says (relevant bit boldfaced):

While I didn’t get to know James Beard, I did end up meeting one of my childhood heroes, Jacques Pépin, and we became very dear friends. He’s the one who turned my wife and I on to pétanque, which is kind of the French version of bocce. We caught on quickly enough — Jacques doesn’t like playing with people who can’t play — that he invited us to join his league and we play every other Sunday during the summer. It’s a really social and remarkably fun game.

A nominative conjoined object (NomConjObj) my wife and I, which struck me as perfectly ordinary these days; indeed, the prescriptive standard alternative my wife and me struck me as somewhat awkward in this context — and I’m someone who doesn’t use NomConjObjs. What might be going on here?

From a 2/24/14 posting:

I have gradually come to be conclusion that NomConjObjs should be seen as an alternative standard usage (largely in coexistence with the prescriptive standard of AccConjObj). The question is then who uses which version, in which contexts, for which purposes. The tentative answer to this question looks complex: I know from interviewing speakers informally that some think that NomConjObjs are formal and “serious” (this is not the same thing as saying that users of the variant are “trying to be sophisticated”, as [CBS News reporter Bill] Flanagan suggests; usage critics are often quick to attribute motives to speakers, rather than just reporting their beliefs), while others simply think that [NomConjObjs] are the way the language works.

For older speakers, NomConjObjs tend to be used in informal contexts, especially in speech (as in the Nischan interview above), but sometimes in informal writing as well (note that the interviewer preserves Nischan’s NomConjObj, rather than “correcting” it in print). But for many younger speakers (like my Stanford students), NomConjObjs are the default.

Now, though I’m not a NomConjObj user myself, I have considerable experience with those who are, and I’m  aware of the generalizations about the choices other people make. So from people of younger generations in informal contexts, I certainly expect to hear a NomConjObj, and my own choice (AccConjObj) would strike me as a bit out of place.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: