Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

This is our main forum. Here, anything related to languages and linguistics can be discussed.

Moderator: Forum Administrators

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 24952
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Yuanlin, Changhua County
Country: TW Taiwan (臺灣)
Contact:

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-11-25, 19:37

OldBoring wrote:I agree that "with X and I" looks plain wrong to me and is a result of hypercorrection, but many native English speakers say so it.

Yeah, a lot of us do, although apparently, this is a trend that started in the 60s or 70s or something, at least in the US. I remember one of my professors telling us about how the first time he heard "between you and I" on a radio broadcast of a sports game, he nearly fell off his chair, but by now, that's practically become a fixed expression.

User avatar
Johanna
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 6622
Joined: 2006-09-17, 18:05
Real Name: Johanna
Gender: female
Location: Lidköping, Westrogothia
Country: SE Sweden (Sverige)

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Johanna » 2015-11-25, 22:12

Aurinĭa wrote:
Johanna wrote:Which has led to stupid things like declaring that "me and my sister did whatever" is seen as wrong by grammar nazis, as is splitting infinitives* and ending a sentence with a preposition**.

That first example doesn't fit in with the other examples. It has nothing to do with Latin influence; it's simply putting an object form into a subject place. I split infinitives and end sentences with a preposition when necessary, basically whichever way sounds best. I use singular "they" all the time. But things like "me and my sister did x" and "with my sister and I" - I can't stand them. They're wrong. Call me a prescriptivist grammar nazi if you like.

The first one belongs to the "has to be perfectly logical all the time" category ;) At least the only explanation as to why it's wrong to say "me and my sister did X" is that you can't say "me did X", the problem with that explanation is that pretty much every single native speaker who have never been told about this so-called rule would think that the former sounds perfectly fine, hence it has to be correct in more colloquial registers at the very least.

That's also probably why they make the mistake of hypercorrecting "with my sister and me" to "with my sister and I", because only "me and my sister did X" and "with me and my sister" are natural to them, so they have no idea how to treat the other construction depending on its role in a sentence.

English does a lot of funky stuff when it comes to object forms, so that it happens to use one in this construction isn't that weird really, I mean that you answer a question like "Who did that?" with an object form if you're going to go with one single word is ludicrous from a Swedish point of view. Or sometimes when other languages would use an object form it uses genitive, at least in the higher registers that require "my sister and I did X". What's up with that?
Swedish (sv) native; English (en) good; Norwegian (no) read fluently, understand well, speak badly; Danish (dk) read fluently, understand badly, can't speak; Faroese (fo) read some, understand a bit, speak a few sentences; German (de) French (fr) Spanish (es) forgetting; heritage language.

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 24952
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Yuanlin, Changhua County
Country: TW Taiwan (臺灣)
Contact:

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-11-25, 22:24

Basically IIRC, me, him, etc. are the default forms of those pronouns in English anyway whereas I, he, etc. occur only with (usually before) finite verbs/auxiliaries for probably most English-speakers.
Johanna wrote:Or sometimes when other languages would use an object form it uses genitive, at least in the higher registers that require "my sister and I did X". What's up with that?

Wait, English requires genitive for an object? Huh? :hmm:

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 24307
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby linguoboy » 2015-11-26, 3:20

Aurinĭa wrote:
Johanna wrote:Which has led to stupid things like declaring that "me and my sister did whatever" is seen as wrong by grammar nazis, as is splitting infinitives* and ending a sentence with a preposition**.

That first example doesn't fit in with the other examples. It has nothing to do with Latin influence; it's simply putting an object form into a subject place.

But who says that "me" is exclusively an object form? This is a circular argument. If native speakers accept me as the subject of a verb (and--overwhelmingly--we do), then it's a subject form. Q.E.D. (And this does have something to do with Latin influence, because your interpretation is based on the case roles of Latin, which simply don't map in a straightforward way to English--or French, for that matter.)

I find that some of the arguments against using me can be countered by replacing it with us. There are still people around who insist on "It is I". I've yet to meet anyone, however, who insists on "It is we". Similarly, "My sister and we did whatever" sounds terribly stilted to me.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 24952
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Yuanlin, Changhua County
Country: TW Taiwan (臺灣)
Contact:

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-11-26, 18:51

linguoboy wrote:There are still people around who insist on "It is I". I've yet to meet anyone, however, who insists on "It is we".

Really? They insist on one but not the other? That's funny. :D

User avatar
OldBoring
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 6014
Joined: 2012-12-08, 7:19
Real Name: Francesco
Gender: male
Location: Milan
Country: IT Italy (Italia)
Contact:

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby OldBoring » 2015-11-27, 4:45

vijayjohn wrote:Basically IIRC, me, him, etc. are the default forms of those pronouns in English anyway whereas I, he, etc. occur only with (usually before) finite verbs/auxiliaries for probably most English-speakers.

Thanks! I wish English pronouns were taught this way.
Instead, all English courses make them look like pronouns in Romance languages and say that I, he etc. are subject, while me, him, etc. are object.

linguoboy wrote:But who says that "me" is exclusively an object form?

Like I said, all English courses. So based on that, we learners (or us learners?) say "I and you". Or "She and we".

___________________

This reminds me that only recently I found out lui, lei, loro as subjects are accepted by grammars. When I studied grammar in primary school, only egli, ella, essi were considered correct as subjects.
And then I found that courses of Italian as L2 don't teach the latter group at all!

Same thing for plural clitic "gli".

"Essi sono i miei genitori. Voglio loro tanto bene." sounds so clumsy. :lol: But I can imagine myself writing this kind of sentence in school essays, or if I were to write a novel; and I probably said it during oral exams at school when in Italy.

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 24307
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby linguoboy » 2015-11-27, 5:22

OldBoring wrote:
linguoboy wrote:But who says that "me" is exclusively an object form?

Like I said, all English courses.

Psst! This is rhetorical device in my language!
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 24952
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Yuanlin, Changhua County
Country: TW Taiwan (臺灣)
Contact:

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-11-27, 6:02

linguoboy wrote:
OldBoring wrote:
linguoboy wrote:But who says that "me" is exclusively an object form?

Like I said, all English courses.

Psst! This is rhetorical device in my language!

Says who?

I don't know whether you'll really say what I'm hoping for, but it's worth a try anyway, I suppose. :D :whistle:

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 24307
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby linguoboy » 2015-11-27, 14:51

vijayjohn wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
OldBoring wrote:
linguoboy wrote:But who says that "me" is exclusively an object form?

Like I said, all English courses.

Psst! This is rhetorical device in my language!

Says who?

Says me!
Don't say I never give you what you want.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 24952
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Yuanlin, Changhua County
Country: TW Taiwan (臺灣)
Contact:

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-11-27, 18:16

Vijay is one happy camper today. :mrgreen:

User avatar
OldBoring
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 6014
Joined: 2012-12-08, 7:19
Real Name: Francesco
Gender: male
Location: Milan
Country: IT Italy (Italia)
Contact:

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby OldBoring » 2015-11-27, 18:20

vijayjohn wrote:Vijay is one happy camper today. :mrgreen:

Happy camper is who?

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 24952
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Yuanlin, Changhua County
Country: TW Taiwan (臺灣)
Contact:

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-11-27, 18:44

OldBoring wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:Vijay is one happy camper today. :mrgreen:

Happy camper is who?

That's not really a grammatical sentence in English, but I'll just say "me!" :P

User avatar
OldBoring
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 6014
Joined: 2012-12-08, 7:19
Real Name: Francesco
Gender: male
Location: Milan
Country: IT Italy (Italia)
Contact:

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby OldBoring » 2015-11-27, 18:46

SO English is not like Chinese where you can say both 谁是XX?and XX是谁?

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 24952
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Yuanlin, Changhua County
Country: TW Taiwan (臺灣)
Contact:

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-11-27, 18:52

OldBoring wrote:SO English is not like Chinese where you can say both 谁是XX?and XX是谁?

That's right, it isn't.

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 24307
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby linguoboy » 2015-11-27, 19:18

vijayjohn wrote:
OldBoring wrote:Happy camper is who?

That's not really a grammatical sentence in English, but I'll just say "me!" :P

It would be if "Happy Camper" were a proper name. But it would be a particularly emphatic way of asking for clarification.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

suruvaippa
Posts: 90
Joined: 2015-10-05, 20:17
Location: San José
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby suruvaippa » 2018-02-04, 6:38

In Spanish, I tend to use nosotras and ellas quite unapologetically for female-majority groups of people.
Last edited by suruvaippa on 2018-02-04, 22:44, edited 1 time in total.
(en-us) native, (fi) fluent, (smi-sme) (smi-sms) (et) working on, (lt) (es) forgetting
(smi-sma) (liv) (ka) (eu) (nv) (ru) (sw) eventually...

User avatar
OldBoring
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 6014
Joined: 2012-12-08, 7:19
Real Name: Francesco
Gender: male
Location: Milan
Country: IT Italy (Italia)
Contact:

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby OldBoring » 2018-02-04, 20:59

Well... most usages of Chinese language(s) only found in Italy would be considered mistakes, I guess.

Koko

Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Koko » 2018-02-05, 4:07

OldBoring wrote:This reminds me that only recently I found out lui, lei, loro as subjects are accepted by grammars. When I studied grammar in primary school, only egli, ella, essi were considered correct as subjects.
And then I found that courses of Italian as L2 don't teach the latter group at all!

Same thing for plural clitic "gli".

"Essi sono i miei genitori. Voglio loro tanto bene." sounds so clumsy. :lol: But I can imagine myself writing this kind of sentence in school essays, or if I were to write a novel; and I probably said it during oral exams at school when in Italy.

:shock: In every italian course i've ever used if the latter group was ever mentioned it was stated as being either outdated, literary, or formal. Though now that i think about it that makes "sense" why the "subject" form i've known is the pronouns you use after prepositions like a lui/a lei/a loro. I kinda feel betrayed by my brain for not getting this until now :lol: It was never explained that egli, ella, essi were once the "correct" subject pronouns.


Return to “General Language Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest