LINGUIST List 3.647

Sat 22 Aug 1992

Disc: Drift

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. H. Stephen Straight, Re: Drifting Along
  2. Robert Beard, Case and English Pronouns

Message 1: Re: Drifting Along

Date: Fri, 21 Aug 92 17:21:26 ESRe: Drifting Along
From: H. Stephen Straight <SSTRAIGHBINGVAXA.bitnet>
Subject: Re: Drifting Along

The contributions to the "give Al Gore and I a chance" discussion have already
revealed much, but here's my two cents: The {and/or NOMINATIVE} "rule"
competes with the NOMINATIVE/ACCUSATIVE rule for many speakers I know only in
their formal register(s). In informal speech these speakers (e.g. all of the
members of my immediate family including my parents and my grown children) all
follow the NOMINATIVE/ACCUSATIVE pattern (Nom for subjects, Acc for objects,
including objects of prepositions) but employ also a PRONOUN-first variant of
the OLDINFO-first "rule" in object positions:

 Louise and he both detest me and Jennifer.
 Sally and I both hate him and Joe.
 John and he both like her and Jane.
 Fred and I both admire them and the neogrammarians.

In formal (monitored) speech, however, these speakers differ radically. One
group (the "grammarian-free") feels most comfortable with

 ! ... Jennifer and I.
 ? ... Joe and he.
 ?? ... Jane and she.
 ??? ... neogrammarians and they.

(where ! = fine!, ? = I'm not sure, ?? = I'd avoid it somehow, and ??? = How in
the world could one say that anyway?).

The other group (the "grammarian-bitten") prefers

 ! ... Jennifer and me.
 ! ... Joe and him.
 ? ... Jane and her.
 ?? ... the neogrammarians and them.

When it comes to drift, casual speech clearly represents the stable,
unproblematic _langue_, while deliberate speech represents the unstable,
problematic _parole_. No wonder prescriptivists so seldom come up with
identical solutions to the problems they hear in casual speech or unmonitored
writing, and that linguistic insecurity abounds in self-monitoring speakers and


H. Stephen Straight, Binghamton University
<sstraighbingvaxa> or <>
607-777-2824 FAX: 607-777-2477

Footnote to the dialectologists among you: My linguistic biography is as
follows: Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1943. Childhood caregivers all college
English teachers (egad!). Early years (2-10) in downstate Illinois (Lincoln),
critical years (10-18) in Chicago (Hyde Park, 10-14) and Oak Park (14-18),
Illinois. College in Ann Arbor (18-22)--BA in English & American Literature,
graduate school in Chicago (22-27)--MA/PhD in linguistics. Upstate New York
ever since then (27-)--teaching linguistics and anthropology.
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Message 2: Case and English Pronouns

Date: 22 Aug 1992 20:26:30 EDT
From: Robert Beard <>
Subject: Case and English Pronouns

 I would like to encourage serious consideration for Dick Hudson's
interpretation of the distribution of the "Accusative" pronouns in English.
We should not forget the rather universal usage of these pronouns in
predicate nominal position, _It is me_, etc. Although some IE and other
languages use oblique cases for this position (Instrumental in Russian),
to claim that pronouns in this position are in an oblique case when the
evidence for Accusative is so shaky would border the absurd. I have often
been tempted by a rule which places these peculiar variants AFTER ANYTHING.
the "Nominative" forms tend to occur in initial IP position. _Me and
you can do it_, etc. preclude this formulation, but something along
this lines would work about as well as Case.
 --RBeard, Bucknell

Robert Beard,
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