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twirls, revolutions, spirals, curlicues, what tangled tales we weave
So there's this the odd linguistic feature of English pronouns in compound subjects where they switch between nominative and objective forms depending on the order. That is, "Me and Julio were down by the schoolyard" sounds entirely correct even though technically it should be "I and Julio" -- which actually sounds so stiff it feels actively wrong -- but in the reverse form, it's "Julio and I were down by the schoolyard" that sounds correct ("Julio and me" sounds acceptable as a colloquialism but to be avoided when speaking in formal registers).

Does anyone know the name for this?

---L.

Subject quote from "Owls," Weebl.

Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
sartorias
Feb. 23rd, 2014 04:50 pm (UTC)
No, but I wonder if it's somehow akin to how allergic we are to the simple present tense--we always opt for the progressive present, but are free to use the simple past, etc.

We don't say "I eat" but we can say "I ate, I have eaten" etc
lnhammer
Feb. 23rd, 2014 08:42 pm (UTC)
I think that's part of how English verbal modes include strong distinctions between relative times of actions and continuing actions. (Compared to, say, Japanese, where it's hard to indicate what happens in "After we ate, I had cleaned the dishes, and was puttering in the kitchen" except as a simple sequence of events, without a lot of verbal gymnastics. Contrariwise, Japanese verbal modes make it easy to indicate how well one knows whether the action happened, which can take a string of auxiliaries in English.)

---L.
mount_oregano
Feb. 23rd, 2014 09:15 pm (UTC)
English verb tenses convey a lot of information both on relative times of actions and on intentionality. "I'm going to go to the store" implies that I have fixed plans to do so, while "I will go to the store" could refer to any time. It's one of the fussy features of the language and something I spend a whole lot of time on when I'm teaching it as English as a Foreign Language.
lnhammer
Feb. 24th, 2014 02:34 pm (UTC)
I surely believe that.

---L.
mount_oregano
Feb. 23rd, 2014 06:13 pm (UTC)
It's a solecism, a non-standard usage or grammatical construction, although that's a large category and not limited to this construction.
lnhammer
Feb. 23rd, 2014 08:36 pm (UTC)
But is there a name for THIS particular one?

---L.
mount_oregano
Feb. 23rd, 2014 09:17 pm (UTC)
I checked in Fowler's Modern English Usage and it calls it "solecism" and "false grammar" but nothing else. There probably is a name out there, though. Sorry.
steepholm
Feb. 23rd, 2014 08:02 pm (UTC)
"Me and Julio were down by the schoolyard" sounds very informal to me - I certainly wouldn't use that construction in more formal other contexts.

Whether anyone ever actually told me this I'm not sure, but I have it in my brain that to say "I and Julio" rather an "Julio and I" is objectionable because it seems egotistical to put oneself first on the list.
lnhammer
Feb. 23rd, 2014 08:36 pm (UTC)
That's ... an interesting rationale. Hmmm.

---L.
mount_oregano
Feb. 23rd, 2014 09:10 pm (UTC)
I have a grammar book -- "Practical English Usage" by Michael Swan -- that says politeness is the reason for "Dad and I went to the store" rather than "I and Dad went."


Edited at 2014-02-23 09:18 pm (UTC)
steepholm
Feb. 23rd, 2014 09:39 pm (UTC)
Also (as quoted here and there on the net), the Oxford Reference Grammar (2000) states: "In standard English, conventional politeness requires that in coordinated phrases, the second person comes first and the first person comes last: my husband and I/ you, Mary and me".
lnhammer
Feb. 24th, 2014 02:35 pm (UTC)
Interesting -- so a style thing, for politeness, rather than grammar per se.

One wonders which came first -- the feeling that "I and Julio" isn't quite right or the rule that it was impolite.

---L.
steepholm
Feb. 24th, 2014 02:42 pm (UTC)
Good question - but I'm not sure how one could find out the answer!
lnhammer
Feb. 24th, 2014 03:27 pm (UTC)
Nor am I. I lack the tools, even, to know how to properly ask it.

---L.
thistleingrey
Feb. 23rd, 2014 10:47 pm (UTC)
+1 re: the order (ETA that is, I was taught it thus). "Me and Julio" sounds flat wrong to me, though I know people say it.

Edited at 2014-02-23 10:48 pm (UTC)
walking_whale
Feb. 24th, 2014 07:22 am (UTC)
That's exactly what we've been teached in (Swiss)German. We have this saying "Der Esel kommt immer zuletzt" (The donkey is always the last), and of course the speaker is "the donkey" :) So it's rather rude to say "ich und Julio" in German, you have to say "Julio und ich". Always.
lnhammer
Feb. 24th, 2014 02:38 pm (UTC)
Heh -- my high school German teacher would say that. I'd forgotten. (She was also fond of "Gottes Mühlen mahlen langsam, mahlen aber trefflich klein.")

---L.
walking_whale
Feb. 24th, 2014 07:36 am (UTC)
Back at school we've been taught to always use "Julio and me", and not "Julio and I". They told us that you do not use "I" at an enumeration like "Julio and me", but always just "me", and that you only use "I" if it's you alone. And I think someone told me once that if it's "we" (Julio and me), it's always "me".

But then, I am not a native English speaker, my teacher hasn't been a native English speaker, and school - that was when? Way back in the Middle Ages? :)

So... Which one is correct? Julio and I, or Julio and me? I have to admit that I am more than confused now :)
lnhammer
Feb. 24th, 2014 02:32 pm (UTC)
Most formally, "Julio and I." If it was just myself, it would be "I was down by the schoolyard," and adding Julio to the party does not change the Ich to mich -- so "Julio and I were down by the schoolyard. (If the enumeration was taking place after the verb, it becomes "the guys down by the schoolyard were Julio and me.")

Most of the above debate is over whether this most formal rule is changing in common usage under certain circumstances. The consensus seems to be that I see it having changed more than most people here, and I'm starting to wonder if this is a regional usage.

---L.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )