LINGUIST List 2.876

Fri 27 Dec 1991

Disc: Pronoun Case Swapping (We Do)

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Directory

  1. John Cowan, Re: 2.865 Pronoun Case Swapping (was: We Do)
  2. , Re: 2.867 We Do
  3. "Don W.", Pronoun cases
  4. Steve Harlow, till death us depart
  5. jack, dative pronouns
  6. "Erik Carvalhal Miller, RE: 2.869 Queries: Brown/LOB Corpus, Pronoun Usage, Opaque Rules
  7. Richard Coates, Re: 2.867 We Do
  8. Karl Dotzek, Re: 2.869 Queries: Pronoun Usage
  9. Jim Scobbie, Re: nominative case as default in English ('we do')

Message 1: Re: 2.865 Pronoun Case Swapping (was: We Do)

Date: Mon, 16 Dec 91 12:21:07 EST
From: John Cowan <cowanuunet.UU.NET>
Subject: Re: 2.865 Pronoun Case Swapping (was: We Do)
"sharon l. shelly" <SHELLYUKCC.uky.edu> writes:
> I don't know why Randy Travis came up with "til death do WE part,"
> but I wouldn't be surprised if it were another case of
> hypercorrection. I'm encountering more and more people, of
> various ages, dialects and levels of education, who seem to believe
> that the nominative case is somehow more legitimate -- or at least
> more prestigious -- in ANY syntactic context. Thus: "They sent
> it to Steve and I," etc. There are some cases that don't occur,
> though: I've never heard "Give it to I," for example.
> Apparently the internalized rule is something like: when in
> doubt (because of a compound noun, or absence of any obvious
> and local case marker), it's always safest to use the nominative.
In H.L. Mencken's >The American Language< (citing from memory, so I don't
have the page numbers or such) he explains the rules for pronoun case
swapping in Nonstandard American English.
1) A subject adjacent to the verb is always nominative: "I went to the store."
2) An object adjacent to the verb or governing preposition is always accusative:
"John shot me."
3) A subject separated from the verb is accusative: "Him and John went to
the store."
4) An object separated from the verb or governing preposition is nominative:
"He gave it to John and I."
Mencken uses the term "conjoint" for forms adjacent to the verb, and "absolute"
for forms not adjacent; for example, the answer to "Who's there?" is "Me", which
is an absolute subject. *"Me is there" would be conjoint, and thus is
ungrammatical.
He also uses these terms to distinguish "my book", which is conjoint, from
"this book is mine", which is absolute (separated from the noun).
There is an exception to these rules.
When the separating element is another pronoun, its case agrees with that of
the separated pronoun: "Him and me went to the store.", also "Mary gave it
to he and I."
Now I'm not a native speaker of this dialect myself, but I certainly hear
it around me all the time. Can any native speakers comment?
--
cowansnark.thyrsus.com		...!uunet!cbmvax!snark!cowan
		e'osai ko sarji la lojban
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Message 2: Re: 2.867 We Do

Date: Mon, 16 Dec 91 17:22:52 PST
From: <TOOLANU.WASHINGTON.EDU>
Subject: Re: 2.867 We Do
Since we're on a re-analysis roll, why shouldn't we read 'do part' as subjuncti
ve causative and transitive, with 'us' as fronted object (I agree with Baron's
hunch that the phrase was formerly 'us do part')?
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Message 3: Pronoun cases

Date: Mon, 16 Dec 1991 00:50:47 PST
From: "Don W." <webbdCCVAX.CCS.CSUS.EDU>
Subject: Pronoun cases
The discussion of "till death do us part" --> "till death do we part"
(or something to that effect), compounded by references to the common
hypercorrection "between him and I" (etc), makes me wonder whether
the English pronoun cases are eventually destined for oblivion.
True, they do seem to have lots of stamina, considering all the other
leveling that has taken place in English. But do we really need them?
Consider Tom Lehrer's parody of Gilbert & Sullivan:
"For I love she and she loves me
And happy are the both of we.
I love she and she loves I
And shall for all eternitie."
Quoting from memory there... :-)
If the pronouns are eventually leveled, which will remain? The subject
or object case? True for all, or a mixture? Will "me" disappear while
"them" remains?
I think the French would call this "linguistique d'anticipation."
Don W.
DonWebbCSUS.EDU
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Message 4: till death us depart

Date: Tue, 17 Dec 91 19:21 GMT
From: Steve Harlow <SJH1vaxa.york.ac.uk>
Subject: till death us depart
I was moved by the recent discussion of variations on the theme of 'till death
us depart' to go and check the wording in the Edward VI edition of the Book of
Common Prayer (1549). I was surprised to find that it read "tyll death us
departe". This sent my colleague Anthony Warner to the OED which states:
Depart
3. trans. To put asunder, sunder, separate, part. Obs.
1548-9 (Mar.) Bk. Com. Prayer, Matrimony, Till death vs departe [altd. 1662 to
'do part'].
The Middle English Dictionary (also courtesy of Anthony), under 'departen' has
the following entry:
(2(b)(a)): ?1403 Form OMatrim. (Lawson) p.xvi: For better for wers, in sekenes
and in hele, til ded us depart.
This is not my field, so I speak with some reticence, but it would appear that
'do part' is a misanalysis (of some antiquity) of transitive 'depart'.
Steve Harlow
University of York
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Message 5: dative pronouns

Date: Tue, 17 Dec 91 19:19:31 EST
From: jack <JAREAUKCC.uky.edu>
Subject: dative pronouns
The usage zgilbert refers to is of long standing in British English. I
recall a line from _Midsummer Night's Dream_ in one of the scenes where
the workmen are preparing to present the play, _Pyramus and Thisbe_, in
which one of the less bright workmen says (approximate quote), "If you
have the lion's part, pray give it me now, for I am slow of learning."
He is told, "You may do it ex tempore, for it is nothing but roaring."
or words to that effect. My American instinct would be to say, "Give
me it now," if I had to do without pronouns. I should imagine that
Quirk, et al would have some information on this, but my copy is not
at hand.
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Message 6: RE: 2.869 Queries: Brown/LOB Corpus, Pronoun Usage, Opaque Rules

Date: Wed, 18 Dec 91 00:47:54 EST
From: "Erik Carvalhal Miller <ECMILLERucs.indiana.edu>
Subject: RE: 2.869 Queries: Brown/LOB Corpus, Pronoun Usage, Opaque Rules
>From: zgilbertepas.utoronto.ca (Zvi Gilbert)
>Subject: More Pronoun Usage Queries
>consistantly used the expression "Give it me," when asking someone to
>give them something. As a Canadian, I had never heard this without
>the preposition (I'd say "Give it TO me.")
>Does it occur in N.America?
>--Zvi Gilbert
Fascinating! I, too, would tend toward "give it to me"; occasionally I say
"give me it" (or, more probably, "gimme it"), but that sounds a little awkward
and is usually uttered without any reflection on speech forms whatsoever. For
me, "give it me" is impossible, except to mean "give me to it"(?), and I have
never heard such a thing from anyone else. My background: native speaker of
English; lived most of my pre-college years in NW Indiana; since then mostly
in Bloomington, Indiana; principal foreign languages are French, German, and
Spanish; lived in France for six months; mother was native speaker of
Portuguese; am twenty-one years old.
Erik Carvalhal Miller
ECMILLERUCS.INDIANA.EDU
Indiana University (Bloomington)
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Message 7: Re: 2.867 We Do

Date: Tue, 17 Dec 91 11:25:14 GMT
From: Richard Coates <richardcsyma.sussex.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: 2.867 We Do
I always understood the expression "till death us do part" as a partial
rationalization of the earlier "till death us depart", arising when _depart_
lost its transitive sense except in fixed expressions (_depart this life_).
The curious OV order would be a direct consequence of the phonology of
the original expression - a fairly unusual state of affairs.
But I may have been misinformed!
Richard Coates
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Message 8: Re: 2.869 Queries: Pronoun Usage

Date: Wed, 18 Dec 91 10:24:43 CET
From: Karl Dotzek <DOTZEKDS0LILOG.bitnet>
Subject: Re: 2.869 Queries: Pronoun Usage
In a msg from Sun, 15 Dec 1991 16:51:37 -0500
zgilbertepas.utoronto.ca (Zvi Gilbert) writes:
>consistantly used the expression "Give it me," when asking someone to
>give them something. As a Canadian, I had never heard this without
>the preposition (I'd say "Give it TO me.")
>
> ...
>
>(What shall we call it? Dative pronoun usage?)
The German translation for "Give it to me" is "Gib es mir" and 'mir'
is a dative pronoun. Maybe the people who used this were fond of a
Germanic style of speaking? :-)
- Karl.
 Karl Dotzek dotzekds0lilog.BITNET
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Message 9: Re: nominative case as default in English ('we do')

Date: Tue, 17 Dec 91 11:30:41 PST
From: Jim Scobbie <scobbieCsli.Stanford.EDU>
Subject: Re: nominative case as default in English ('we do')
>From: "sharon l. shelly" <SHELLYUKCC.uky.edu>
> I'm encountering more and more people, of
>various ages, dialects and levels of education, who seem to believe
>that the nominative case is somehow more legitimate -- or at least
>more prestigious -- in ANY syntactic context. Thus: "They sent
>it to Steve and I," etc. There are some cases that don't occur,
>though: I've never heard "Give it to I," for example.
A joke phrase I have heard used, typically in a Pythonesque voice,
is "'scuse I" instead of "excuse me". I don't know whether this is
based on actual usage, or just an exaggeration of the nominative
tendency for comic effect. I suspect the dialect variation of pronoun
forms would show many 'nominative-position' pronouns are actually cognate
with 'accusative-forms' in standard English dialects: "Us'll be leaving then".
One 'odd' phrase is "thanking you!" instead of "thank you". I just wanted to
get that off my chest.
--
James M. Scobbie: Dept of Linguistics, Stanford University, CA 94305-2150
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