Startling NomConjObj on the editorial page

From the lead editorial in the NYT print edition on 1/11/19, “[REDACTED] Shutdown: A Tragedy of Errors”, with the crucial bit boldfaced:

How did we get into this sorry situation? A meltdown of this magnitude typically has many causes. In this case, the president’s inability to reach some sort of deal rests heavily on several basic failures of understanding by he and his team.

By no means unparalleled, but this NomConjObj (nominative-case personal pronoun — 3sg he in this example — in a conjoined object — object of the P by in this example — and in the first conjunct, and in print, and in a serious context) is far from canonical, and might well strike even speakers who are regular users of NomConjObj as over the line. Whoa!

A canonical example has a 1sg nominative object (the pronoun form I) in the second conjunct, in speech and in informal style. The formulaic, perhaps idiomatic, between you and I, in speech addressed to an intimate, illustrates the canonical configuration. (Warning: the sociolinguistics and stylistics of NomConjObjs are far more complex than this example would suggest.)

That was the print version. The on-line version, with a different head and available a day earlier than the print version, has Acc rather than Nom case; presumably it was edited someone along the line. From “The Shutdown Is Now the Longest Ever. How Did [REDACTED] Get Here? Someone needs to gently explain to the president that, going forward, he might want to adjust his negotiating strategy”, on-line on 1/10:

How did we get into this sorry situation? A meltdown of this magnitude typically has many causes. In this case, the president’s inability to reach some sort of deal rests heavily on several basic failures of understanding by him and his team

(The 3sg pronoun comes first for reasons of discourse salience; the passage is about the president, and his team is an appendage to him.)

This blog has had for some time a Page on pronoun case postings, including those on NomConjObjs. Now there’s a subPage with my file of NomConjObj examples from real life, coded for position of the pronoun, its person and number, and syntactic context: canonical 2-1S-P (second position, 1sg, object of P), but 1-3S-P for the Times example. The examples are almost all from highly educated speakers (linguistics professors figure prominently), in speech but in serious contexts.

 

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