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[May. 16th, 2014|09:12 am]
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This reddit thread on 'I' vs. 'me' in English makes me wonder why it's so easy to get this wrong.

So we all know that it goes:

(1) That's a picture of my sister and me.
(2) *That's a picture of my sister and I.

(3) My sister and I went swimming.
(4) *My sister and me went swimming.

But people do say the *'ed things — I think I even hesitate sometimes. Is it possible that people who say (4) think of 'and' not as a conjunction but a more preposition-like thing that governs the comitative?

Even though I can't say
(4a) *My sister with me went swimming.
I can say
(4b) My sister went swimming with me.

In that case, when someone with comitative-and in their head, who says (4), is corrected to (3), what they implicitly learn is "oh, I see, comitative coincides with nominative, not accusative" and it makes perfect sense that they now say the hypercorrection (2).

Any actual linguists reading want to tell me what the real story is here? gregh1983? I'm sure this has been analyzed to death already.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: nightspore
2014-05-16 03:55 pm (UTC)

Throw Mama from the train

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Fascinating. I certainly believe that 2 is a hypercorrection.

Milton's (notoriously Latinate) Paradise Lost has God cursing Man: "He with his whole posterity must die." (I.219), and I can hear this as acceptable English. I think you might be right about the and/with blurring, since Milton's rhythm recalls Lear's "I can stay with Goneril, I and my hundred knights" (Act II, Scene IV).

Milton also has Adam deciding to eat the apple after he finds out the serpent has tricked her. He's destroyed her "And me with thee hath ruined; for with thee / Certain my resolution is to die" (9.906-907).

Of course lots of Paradise Lost can be hung with asterisks.*

----

*               couldn't you doff this green
Incorruptible, the might-have-been,

And arm in arm with me dare the magician's tent?
It's hung with asterisks.

                  --James Merrill, in his poem "Yánnina", a poem which itself has asterisked footnotes.
[User Picture]From: roseandsigil
2014-05-16 08:02 pm (UTC)

Re: Throw Mama from the train

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I'm not sure I see how "And me with thee hath ruined; for with thee / Certain my resolution is to die" is agrammatical. Looking at the context:

...[S]om cursed fraud
Of Enemie hath beguil'd thee, yet unknown,
And mee with thee hath ruind, for with thee
Certain my resolution is to Die;

It looks like the subject of the sentence is "fraud", and "me" and the following "thee" are objects of "hath ruind", with the final "thee" being the object of the preposition "with".
[User Picture]From: nightspore
2014-05-16 09:15 pm (UTC)

Re: Throw Mama from the train

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Yes, you're right, "Fraud" 's the subject. I still with other Miltonists feel that "me hath ruined with thee" sounds more natural, and maybe that's connected to the comative? But maybe being the object of the verb rather than subject makes a big difference, even if the verb comes after the with-phrase. My first example - "he with his whole posterity must die" - being modal might also be a kind of quasi-example: cognitively man with his whole posterity is (are?) governed by the "must."

Anyhow I'm sufficiently ruined myself that I hear everything in Milton as asterisk-free, so am not a good judge of some generally anamolous forms. I imagine the 18th c. grammarians who had their minds filled with Latin had the same issues, in spades.
[User Picture]From: jcreed
2014-05-16 09:32 pm (UTC)

Re: Throw Mama from the train

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I don't understand what's weird with "He with his whole posterity must die." Sounds grammatical to me.

"I can stay with Goneril, I and my hundred knights" is really interesting, though, since it sounds a liiiitle archaic somehow, in a way that "I can stay with Goneril, me and my hundred knights" sounds like a clangingly modern update of it. It sounds dead wrong in the mouth of Milton, but about right for a twelve-year-old living today.

I wasn't actually suggesting that the noun before the "and" should be in the comitative, but this example is making me question that. Though I don't know. The force that's turning "I" into "me" here feels more like the fact that "I and my hundred knights" is a mere apposition to "I can stay with Goneril".
From: vilhelm_s
2014-05-17 12:21 am (UTC)

Re: Throw Mama from the train

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There is this blog post written by a linguist which compares "you and me" to emphatic (a.k.a. disjunctive) case in French. I don't know how comitative and emphatic are related though.
[User Picture]From: roseandsigil
2014-05-16 08:02 pm (UTC)

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Jcreed, this is pretty great.
[User Picture]From: jcreed
2014-05-16 08:28 pm (UTC)

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thanks I guess? I still suspect this is well-trodden ground by real linguistics, I just don't know how to look it up. googling for "english comitative case" didn't yield much.
[User Picture]From: psifenix
2014-05-21 10:05 pm (UTC)

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'Than' is both preposition and conjunction, which is why the "cooler than me" vs. "cooler than I" arguments are funny.