LINGUIST List 3.633

Sun 16 Aug 1992

Disc: Linguistic Drift

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Message 1: drift

Date: Thu, 13 Aug 92 13:54:29 CSdrift
From: ( <>
Subject: drift

Dan Slobin raises the issue of objective _I_ occurring as the second
element of a pair. Usually it's a prepositional object: between you
and I being the classic case. Dan cites Bill Clinton's use of Al Gore and
I as a verbal object.

I suggest you take a look at the discussion in _Webster's Dictionary
of English Usage_, where the phenomenon is traced as far back as
Shakespeare. The usage was observed by Henry Sweet in the New English
Grammar (1892). Sweet attributes the perceived revival of the
phenomenon to school efforts to eradicate "him and me" constructions in
speech. This leads to the common assumption that object forms with I
are hypercorrections, though Sweet (all this from WDEU) suggested the
formulaic pairing of _you and I_ in English influenced the construction.

But of course that does not explain its occurrence in Clinton's
speech, or in such common constructions as "She gave it to my brother
and I." WDEU cites written evidence from 17th & 18th centuries,
censures of the form in later 19th c. work. Cites story that Twain
used it until Howells censured him for it.

Someone (I can't remember who(m)) noted that _between you and I_
is used quite unselfconsciously by people who never "misuse" pronoun
case in other sorts of constructions. IE, they would never be caught
dead saying "He gave it to I" or "Listen to I." This rings true to me
and also makes the hypercorrection explanation suspect. I tend to favor
the "X and I" fossilization theory: the phrase becomes an idiom and
therefore does not obey normal grammatical constraints. But that fails
to explain why some people use it, and others absolutely cannot. In
that sense it patterns like _anymore_ (Anymore there's so much of that
going on) which some people treat as perfectly normal and others find
totally alien.

Except of course for linguists, who live for problems like this.


Dennis Baron
Dept. of English office: 217-244-0568
University of Illinois messages: 217-333-2392
608 S. Wright St fax: 217-333-4321
Urbana IL 61801
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