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Me and myself
Posted: 03 October 2013 05:13 PM   [ Ignore ]
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In recent years many people, especially the young, seem to use myself when they really mean me.

Myself, yourself etc., in their correct form, should only be used to show the reflexive, as in - I wash myself, I dress myself, I see myself in the mirror.

However, especially ‘myself’ is now often being used indiscriminately to mean ‘I’ and ‘me’. I often hear phrases like, ‘if it weren’t for myself, you wouldn’t be here’, or ‘people like Jack and myself are always interested.’ In fact, it seems like ‘me’ is being slowly replaced by ‘myself’ these days.

Thinking back to when I was growing up, the only people I can remember who used ‘myself’ etc. in this way were the Irish (again) who worked in the area. “Ah, Mr Moss, how’s yourself then?” “Oh, is it yourself who’s not well today?”

I imagine that with television and other forms of media, somehow this expression has become widespread, although I can’t imagine why people would emulate the Irish misuse of me like this. Amazing what people will copy without knowing it.

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Posted: 03 October 2013 05:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Arga - 03 October 2013 05:13 PM

I imagine that with television and other forms of media, somehow this expression has become widespread, although I can’t imagine why people would emulate the Irish misuse of me like this. Amazing what people will copy without knowing it.

Recency illusion. “myself” as the object of the verb can be found in writing as early as the late 1700s, by Boswell, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson.

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Posted: 03 October 2013 07:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Older than that. It goes back to Middle English. (And possibly Old English, but I don’t know of any unambiguous examples.)

I’d definitely label it non-standard, but I’d avoid “incorrect” or “misuse” as it is standard in certain dialects, notably as Arga points out, in Irish English.

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Posted: 03 October 2013 11:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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There does seem to be a vague feeling out there that myself and yourself is somehow more meaningful, and conveys more weight and respect, than I/me and you. My father, a director in a small engineering company (England, in the 1970s-80s), used to be routinely irked by the MD who used to address clients in letters as ‘yourselves’ and ‘your good selves’. My father felt this just made the company sound like a gaggle of Uriah Heeps, but the MD was convinced it was the proper form.

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Posted: 04 October 2013 12:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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My Irish friends say, “How are you?”, emphasising “are”, not “How’s yourself?”

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Posted: 04 October 2013 07:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I suspect that uncertainty about choosing between I and me contributes to its use in constructions like

people like Jack and myself are always interested

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Posted: 05 October 2013 12:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I’d say “like Jack and me” there, not because it might be right but because it’s what’s said.  Likewise I’d say, “people like us do this”, not “people like we do this”.

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Posted: 05 October 2013 08:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Those are both the traditionally correct forms, since the pronouns are objects of the preposition like.  However, many Americans would say “like Jack and I”.  (I think this comes from having been reproved in youth for sentences like “Jack and me are going to the park” although ISTR that some disagreed with me when this has come up before.)

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Posted: 05 October 2013 11:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Yeah, the current theory is that “Jack and I” is analyzed as a unit in which the pronoun is automatically “nominative.” It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with hypercorrection.

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Posted: 05 October 2013 04:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Yes, and this use of ‘I’ when it should be ‘me’ is another one. I often hear sentences like ‘between Jack and I, we made a good job of it’.

Between never takes the nominative, only the the accusative and dative forms. Besides, ‘between you and I’ can never sound correct, although many younger people don’t seem to recognise this.

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Posted: 06 October 2013 05:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Besides, ‘between you and I’ can never sound correct, although many younger people don’t seem to recognise this.

You don’t seem to recognize the self-contradictory nature of your statement.  If many younger people don’t recognize that “between you and I” doesn’t sound correct, it follows that to them it does sound correct.  Which means that for them, it is correct.  That’s how language works.  You might as well say that because the parents of the first generation to use bead for ‘little round object’ rather than ‘prayer’ (its original and therefore “correct” meaning) thought/"recognized" that it was incorrect, it is inherently and forever incorrect, and we should all be ashamed to say it.  The takeaway, as always: just because you personally don’t like a usage doesn’t mean that it’s “incorrect” or “not English.” Once people start saying it in large numbers, you might as well be telling the tide not to come in.

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Posted: 06 October 2013 07:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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And again, it’s been almost a thousand years since English had a dative case.

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Posted: 06 October 2013 10:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Something called the ethical dative still survives in English, although I’ve never been sure why it’s called that and what it has to do with the dative case. There’s an example in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, when Achilles (as reported by Ulysses) is urging Patroclus, who has just mimicked Nestor making a speech, to now show him putting on his armour in an emergency:

Now play him me, Patroclus,
Arming to answer in a night alarm.
And then forsooth the faint defects of age
Must be the scene of mirth ......

And in Hamlet:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy where the your refers not to Horatio’s philosophy but philosophy in general and should be unstressed. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard actors stress it and screw up the intended sense.

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Posted: 06 October 2013 01:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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The ethical dative is a term from Latin grammar, another example of people trying to apply Latin grammar to English. The English examples are in the objective case. There is no dative in English.

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Posted: 06 October 2013 01:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Never met a grammar cop who had anything interesting to say. I’m more of the Joan Didon school. “Grammar is a piano I play by ear.”

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Posted: 06 October 2013 05:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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’Between you and I’ and other similar grammatical mistakes presumably come about because, as someone mentioned earlier, younger people hear sentences like ‘my husband and I’ and mistakenly believe that all phrases which include the first person singular plus another person must use the nominative ‘I’. Either they weren’t taught (at home or at school) that I becomes me when it’s not nominative or their teachers weren’t informed enough themselves to correct them.

The dative case still exists in English but because, in the example of pronouns, that form is identical to the accusative case, we don’t think it is in use any more.

I see him walking across the road. In this sentence ‘him’ is the accusative of he. The verb to see takes on the accusative case.

I give him the book. In this sentence ‘him’ is the dative of he. The verb to give takes on the dative case.

We’ve forgotten this and because it is no longer taught in our schools, we assume it doesn’t exist any more.

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