LINGUIST List 3.658

Fri 28 Aug 1992

Disc: Drift, Coordination and Case-marking

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  1. Mary Tait, Re: 3.651 Drift, Coordination and Case-Marking
  2. , RE: 3.628 Drift in English; Position in Constructions
  3. benji wald, Re: 3.654 Drift, Coordination and Case-marking

Message 1: Re: 3.651 Drift, Coordination and Case-Marking

Date: Thu, 27 Aug 92 11:05:11 BSRe: 3.651 Drift, Coordination and Case-Marking
From: Mary Tait <mtaitling.edinburgh.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: 3.651 Drift, Coordination and Case-Marking

Re: Richard Ogden's claim that 'we linguists' is preferred to 'us linguists',
the facts are opposite in my dialect (Mid-Western American English), with
'us linguists, us kids, etc.' being most common. 'we linguists' sounds like
a hyper-correction to me.

Re: Janne Johannessen's analysis of coordination, this is essentially
the analysis adopted in my thesis, "The Syntactic Projection of Morphological
Categories", U of Edinburgh 1991 in the revision of barriers on p 258.

Mary Tait
University of Edinburgh
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Message 2: RE: 3.628 Drift in English; Position in Constructions

Date: Thu, 27 Aug 92 12:16 MET
From: <WERTHalf.let.uva.nl>
Subject: RE: 3.628 Drift in English; Position in Constructions

Re Dan Slobin's note on Clinton's I's: apparently Time magazine has been
getting beseiged by whatever the American equivalent of retired colonels
living in Tunbridge Wells is, evidently all pre WWII, complaining of this
very thing. (See Aug. 31 issue, letters page). After the outcry about Dan
Quayle's spelling, it seems the press is turning its attention away from
sexual peccadillos to linguistic ones (which as we all know, ARE much more
serious, and indicative of weak moral fibre - or fiber).

Paul Werth
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Message 3: Re: 3.654 Drift, Coordination and Case-marking

Date: Thu, 27 Aug 92 18:28 PDT
From: benji wald <IBENAWJMVS.OAC.UCLA.EDU>
Subject: Re: 3.654 Drift, Coordination and Case-marking

I agree with Newman and Kac as against Ogden that the "normal" spoken use
of English favours "us linguists" over "we linguists" regardless of case. It
may be further interesting to note that in my conversations with naive
(non- linguist) English speakers who "buy" that "it's I" is correct against
"it's me", most of them still balk at "it's we" but accept "it's us". This
is a further piece of evidence that case is not what's happening in the
evolving distinction between the former nominative and oblique pronouns.
I haven't thought much about it, but I suspect that the distinction is being
increasingly interpreted in terms of "focus", a process more advanced in
French. The correlation with case is that subjects tend to be in lower focus
than objects, so that is where the opportunity for reanalysis from case to
focus began. At least with respect to the 1s PRO there is a phonological
iconicity in French which does not obtain in English, i.e., that the subject
form je cannot (since Old French) be given stress (another focus device).
The ongoing discussion here shows that English "drift" may be more complex than
what has happened in French. I am also not sure yet how a focus interpretation
of the difference between "me"/"I" and "us/we" among others (exc "you") fits
in with the compound PRO problem, although it seems clear that in specifying
"me n you" or "me n her" there is more information and consequently focus
than in "us". Compound pronouns are common in the Cameroonian Bantoid
languages, where inclusive and exclusive 1p also tend to be distinguished,
sometimes simply by obligatory use of the compounding device.
Degrees of focus but not case are also distinguished for pronouns in those
languages, e.g. Aghem, Noni (described by Larry Hyman) etc.

If I recall correctly, the issue of order of pronouns has already been raised
in this discussion. Order seems to follow "inherent topicality" which is
the reverse of focus. 1=2 more topical than 3 and sing more topical than pl.
Thus, "me n her" more likely than "her n me". No predictability across
languages for relative topic/focus of 1 and 2. English like Bantu seems to
assign 1 more topicality/less focus than 2 "me n you" rather than "you n me",
while French and Spanish are among languages which have reverse appraisals
of 1 and 2. While ordering is very strict in Bantu and Romance it seems to
be quite weak, possibly only incipient, in English.

 Incidentally, some of you are probably aware that while Spanish retains IE
use of case pretty much intact on pronouns , in contrast to
French, the compound form with 1s is "yo" subject rather than
"mi" object. It is perfect Spanish to say "entre Juan y yo" lit "between
J and I". I am not clear on how widespread this is with other
prepositions or as a compound object of the verb, but it seems
to be nonstandard in such cases if it exists at all.

If this discussion evolves further here, my questions include the issue of
various dialects of Spanish, and the extent to which different English
speakers feel that there are preferrable orderings of compound pronouns,
e.g., "him n us" vs. "us n him", and whether mixtures of subject and
object forms in compounds affects this (as it does for "he n I" vs. ?"I n he")
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