Archive for the ‘Pronoun case’ Category

Not 2-1S, but 1-3P

May 10, 2019

Today’s notable NomConjObj, from MSNBC reporter Garrett Haake in Clyde OH (a Whirlpool appliance company town), talking about the effect of tariff increases on appliance dealers, with reference to:

… the price disparity between they and their competitors

Oh my, a nominative conjoined object about as far from the central examples of the construction as you can get (so not in my selective NomConjObj files): 1-3P between they and their competitors (pronoun in 1st position, 3rd person pronoun, singular pronoun) rather than the very common 2-1S (as in between my competitors and I). One for the files!

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NomConjObj in the New Yorker

April 30, 2019

The steamroller of language change chugs on, even through the famously factchecked and copyedited precincts of the New Yorker. From the keyboard of the magazine’s ideas editor, Joshua Rothman, in the 1/21/19 issue, in the article “The art of decision-making: Your life choices aren’t just about what you want to do; they’re about who you want to be”, in a section where Rothman and his wife face decisions about becoming parents (p. 31 in the print edition; relevant passage boldfaced, crucial phrase underlined):

Before we had our son, I began exploring the “near face” of being a parent. I noticed how cute babies and children could be and pictured our spare room as a nursery; I envisaged my wife and I taking our child to the beach near our house (my version of “entering the warm light of a concert hall on a snowy evening”). I knew that these imaginings weren’t the real facts about having children — clearly, there was more to having kids than cuteness. All the same, I had no way of grasping the “distant face” of fatherhood. It was something I aspired to know.

This is the first NomConjObj — nominative personal pronoun form in a conjoined object — that I’ve noticed in plain (not quoted) text in the New Yorker; there are in fact no New Yorker examples in my database of NomConjObj examples. Meanwhile, I believe the editors of the magazine have deprecated the construction as a vulgar error, so it’s notable. It’s not at all surprising to me that Rothman wrote that sentence, but it’s telling that it wasn’t changed in editing. I will explain.

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In the land of supertitles

February 22, 2019

Revived on Facebook recently, this 2/20/12 Cyanide and Happiness cartoon by Jay A.:

(#1)

The first three panels are routine (but annoying): Character 1 produces an example of AccConjSubj (the non-standard Accusative Conjoined Subject me and Steve) and Character 2 reacts with hysterical peeving, becoming physically sick from experiencing the AccConjSubj.

But then we discover that we’re not in anything like the real world, where someone speaks and someone else hears what they say, but instead in the Land of Supertitles, where someone produces a banner with writing on it and someone else reads it. That has to be what’s going on — since otherwise how could Chr2 know how Chr1 was spelling what they said? YOUR instead of YOU’RE, ALLERGYS insead of ALLERGIES, AFFECT instead of EFFECT, THEIR instead of THEY’RE, ITS instead of IT’S — they’re all homophones, so how could Chr2 know that Chr1 was spelling them wrong? UNLESS CHR2 COULD READ WHAT CHR1 WAS SAYING.

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Startling NomConjObj on the editorial page

January 17, 2019

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!

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whom can be pardoned

June 9, 2018

It’s CruzISOC Day on AZBlog! Time to report on Ted Cruz‘s Twitter adventures with the non-standard case-marking of the lexical item WHO (Nom who, Acc whom) as an in-situ subject of an object complement. As here (marked up mockingly by Oliver Roeder on Twitter):

(#1)

(#2)

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But that’s not I nor you

January 6, 2018

My most recent adventure in pronoun case — the posting “Usage note: NomPred”, about nominative predicative pronouns — ended with a screen capture with the bit of dialogue

No, that’s more you. That’s not me.

which I converted to a piss-elegant pronoun version with That’s not I.

I haven’t found recent examples of this pronoun usage, not That’s not I, That’s not she/he, That’s not they, or (worse) That’s not we — NomPred we is extraordinarily unnatural — but I did find an example from the late 19th century, in a bit of didactic verse for schoolchildren:

Some folks long to die
But that’s not I nor you.

(where it’s repeated as the fourth line of morally instructive quatrains; this is the end of the first verse) — here conveying ‘but that’s not the way you and I are, but you and I aren’t like that’, and so indirectly conveying both ‘but that’s not the way I am, but I’m not like that’ and also ‘nor should that be the way you are, nor should you be like that’.

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Usage note: NomPred

January 5, 2018

Every so often, I’m brought up short by an example, in edited prose in a serious publication, of a nominative predicative pronoun that strikes me as deeply strange and unnatural. So it was yesterday as I read through the New York Times. In a piece by Alan Feuer (relevant sentence boldfaced):

[on-line 1/3] “One Brooklyn Man’s Lonely Journey to Jihad”, [in print 1/4] “Court Papers Detail a Drift Toward Jihad”
For years in Brooklyn, it was just he and mother, his alcoholic father having long ago abandoned them in Kazakhstan. She worked cleaning houses and was gone much of the day. He went to a large public high school, but spoke little English and had few, if any, friends.

Presumably, either Feuer or an editor was bewitched by the theory that predicative pronouns must necessarily be nominative (on the model of the hyperformal identifying formulas It is I and This is he), but in the specifying-it construction above, the pronoun case choice of native speakers would be accusative him, not nominative he.

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The perils of parallelism

October 9, 2017

Passed on to me by Ben Zimmer, a tweet, entitled “To Whom Is Responsible for This”, from author Colin Dickey (most recent book: Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places) with this photo of extraordinary whom on the hoof:

I see three contributing factors here: (A) a preference for fronting rather than stranding Ps in extraction constructions; (B) a mechanical application of a principle calling for (formal) parallelism in coordination; and (C) an irrational reverence for the case form whom (rather than who) of the (relative or interrogative) pronoun WHOM.

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Annals of NomConjObj: Miss Adelaide

August 24, 2017

Yesterday from Ben Zimmer, e-mail saying that he’d recently seen a performance of the musical “Guys and Dolls” and thought I’d appreciate an exchange in the song “Marry the Man Today” (one of the songs that was cut for the movie adaptation), a duet for the characters Adelaide (Miss Adelaide of the Hot Box girls) and Sarah (Sister Sarah Brown in a Salvation Army band):

Adelaide: At Wanamaker’s and Saks and Klein’s
A lesson I’ve been taught
You can’t get alterations on a dress you haven’t bought.
Sarah: At any vegetable market from Borneo to Nome
You mustn’t squeeze a melon till you get the melon home.
Adelaide: You’ve simply got to gamble.
Sarah: You get no guarantee.
Adelaide: Now doesn’t that kind of apply to you and I?
Sarah: You and me.

(referring to Adelaide and Nathan Detroit, who runs a crap game; and Sarah and Sky Masterson, a high-rolling gambler)

You can listen to the song, in the original cast album, here.

A NomConjObj (nominative conjoined object) from Adelaide, corrected by Sarah. The first instance of NomConjObj in my life that I actually noticed — surely not the first that came past me, but the first I was conscious of, and tried to locate in its social world (working-class NYC low-lifes, in the show) — also part of my first experience of a live performance of a musical, in the original Broadway production, which opened in 1950. I was 10, and it was stunning.

(#1) Playbill from the original production

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Three from xkcd

December 13, 2016

Three recent xkcd cartoons: #1767 “US State Names” (goofy play on the names of the states), #1770 “UI Change” (on arbitrary and unannounced changes in user interfaces … and on aging), and #1771 “It Was I” (on pronoun case).

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