Thursday, February 26, 2009

Her has won .. Me went .. Tarzan go get Jane

Following up on the Times column that whistled the President for the grammar foul of saying, "...between you and I," here are some other object object lessons.

In all the case cases below, the speaker has only to switch the order of the people to reveal the error. No one would say, "...between I and you," because it sounds wrong.

Someday the English language may make no distinction between the subjective and objective case in personal pronouns. But for now we're stuck with trying to keep things straight.

From John Adams' story in today's Knoxville News Sentinel, quoting Mississippi State hoops coach Rick Stansbury: "They made plays. Him [Bobby Maze] and [Scotty] Hopson made plays."

In an an earlier News Sentinel story, a sentence from a Karns High student's letter (absolving a teacher for allegedly offending her) reads: "Him and I have always joked around."

Another earlier story quotes a student saying, "Me and Zach try our best not to talk about football..."

Once, at halftime of a Lady Vols' victory over Georgia, the poised and articulate Lisa Leslie began a sentence about two great coaches in women's basketball with, "Her and Pat Summitt have won more games than anyone."

Many of our kids say, "Me and Janie went to the Mall." Would anyone (other than Johnny Weissmuller) ever say, "Me went to the Mall"?

A Jeff Foxworthy Harbrace Moment

Harbrace Section 5: Case charts the cases of pronouns, then adds, "Pronouns my, our, your, him her, it, and them combine with -self or -selves become intensive/reflexive pronouns.

[Basically, these are objective pronouns that have gotten somewhat big for their britches and are used for emphasis to refer to a noun or pronoun in the same sentence.] Formal English does not accept myself as a substitute for I or me." [I myself don't care.]

Then there's a note [perhaps revealing Harbrace's Tennessee roots] "Note: Hisself and theirselves, although the logical forms for the reflexive pronouns [durn tootin'!], are not accepted in formal English [dang it!]; use himself and themselves.

Bill lives by himself [NOT hisself].

They live by themselves [NOT theirselves]." [We might add: and certainly not "theyselves."]

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