Sunday, November 19, 2006

 

Do You Think Pronoun Case Is Dead?

Is it I or me? Do you care?
I care "for whom the bell tolls."

In "Philadelphia Story," Katherine Hepburn says "It is I." Do you answer the phone "It's me"? Would you rather use "that" than choose between "who" and "whom"?

Do you think English speakers have evolved beyond "who" and "whom"? I know the debate makes people furious no matter which side they're on, but I think it's sort of fun.

How about you?

Comments:
What a great blog idea! I have to admit that I still cringe when I hear "between she and I," though I do understand the logic of those who say it's not worth all the fuss. Some other languages don't even have pronoun case, so would it be the end of the world if we lost it, too?

On the other hand, what do you do with that inner editor who faints onto her verbal sofa when she hears the mistake made?
 
Oh, it drives me crazy! I've found that younger people, having been corrected so many times for saying "me" when they shouldn't, use "I" religously. They're so aftraid of sounding like fools that they end up doing exactly that. How depressing it is...
 
Who are you writing about?

In a post-Thanksgiving column, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote, "In Iraq, the only question is, who can we turn the country over to?"

The language, apparently, has evolved -- or something. The Times, as I recall, abandoned distinguishing between who and whom some time ago.

For my part, The Times is not the entity I'd turn Iraq -- or anything else I'd like to preserve -- over to.

Keep up the good blogging.
 
I notice that dayzed seems to use who/whom incorrectly on purpose, to make his point. What about ending sentences with a preposition? I grew up in a household where I'd as good as get my face slapped were I to do someting so "ungrammatical."

Let's play some more. Would you say "It's HE/HIM WHO/WHOM I adore?

Do you think "She is the woman who I would give everything to." is annoying? Why?

Do you find this phrasing more or less offensive than the previous?
"She is the woman to whom I'd give everything."
WHY?


I'd love to see any funny error- ridden sentences fellow bloggers would like to post, with or without comment.

One of my deepest beliefs is that when we forget how to laugh we're doomed to misery. Whether pronoun case or even complete sentences matter to us or not!
 
You're right, but look at Dayzed's Dowd sentence. For that one, wouldn't you have to say "Over to whom can we turn the country?" Doesn't that get too convoluted for today's world?

No one can say Dowd doesn't know how to use the language, so obviously that wording was deliberate.

About that woman who's going to get all my stuff, I dislike the first sentence because I don't think you need the "who" in it at all. The second sounds suitably poetic, because only in a poem would anyone give any woman everything. :)
 
Has anyone tried to diagram (even in the mind alone) Maureen Dowd's sentence quoted above? I'm not knocking the sentence clarity, but were school kids still taught to use subject/verb/object and assorted modifiers or elements used as principal sentence parts, what would the diagram look like? Can you remember how to do diagrams? Pretend you have to. What is the subject...for starters.
 
I can find the subject, but after that I get hazy on diagramming. Do they even still teach this? Any teachers out there who can tell us whether it's still in the curriculum?
 
Why couldn't we just say, "Having toppled the corrupt Saddam, even we, with weapons and soldiers, can't keep order, much less run Iraq like the western democracy it isn't. Were there any party or alliance that could, Mr. Bush would probably hand over the country, pull out our military, and say 'we stayed the course and won.' To Bush's misfortune, his lack of any realistic plan for what was to be done with Iraq once Saddam was gone has left an ever more bloody mess we can't stop, a horror no one else appears able or even willing to try to end." I know these sentences don't have the journalistic quick punch of Dowd's, but isn't it just possible unless she's "singing to the choir," what she meant NEEDED to be more fully explained. (Even if what I wrote isn't what she meant, that in itself would prove my point. There is a reason for grammar.)
 
In Japanese, there is no real difference between the subject/object pronouns like we have.

Watashi wa Mokey desu.

Essentially, "I am Mokey," but really, "As for me, I am Mokey." There isn't much difference. Watashi will mean "I" or "me" in any sentence, and to make the word "mine," just say Watashino. To say "we" or "us," just say Watashitachi.

It makes me wonder why exactly we bother with "I/me," "she/her," "he/him," etc. (although I cringe, too, when someone says, "between she and I...")

We quit the "thou/thee" thing and just chose to use "you" for all situations -- even for plurals. Will we do the same for the rest of the pronouns eventually?

Another interesting tidbit from a Japanese language nerd -- they don't have definite or indefinite articles "a" or "the." Therefore, there is no way to say, "This is THE book," as opposed to "This is a book."

Interesting, ne?
 
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