Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The case for politeness: Pronoun variation in co-ordinate NPs in object position in English

  • Philipp S. Angermeyer (a1) and John Victor Singler (a1)

Abstract

The use of the nominative 1sg pronouns in co-ordinate NPs in object position, most famously between you and I, has received much attention from prescriptivists and formal linguists, but it has never been the object of a variationist study that compares its usage to that of other variants. This article seeks to fill the gap, based on a data set of co-ordinate NPs in object position, gathered through observation of everyday speech as well as in experimental sociolinguistic interviews. Arguing that the choice of NP case and of NP order is inseparably related, we identify three major patterns of co-ordinate NPs: Vernacular me and X and two post-Vernacular patterns, Standard X and me and Polite X and I. We then examine social and linguistic factors that constrain the usage of individual patterns. We conclude that all three patterns are robust and that they exist in stable ternary variation.This article, which we authored jointly, arose from a paper we presented with Cecilia Cutler and Keith Fernandes at NWAVE–XXVII in Athens, Georgia. Cece and Keith worked with us in gathering the data and participated in extensive discussion with us concerning the phenomenon under study. We are grateful to them. The NWAVE paper itself grew out of a project in a linguistic variation class at NYU. The other participants in the class project were Tiffany Dugan and Agnieszka Rakowicz, and we thank them for their help. We benefited from discussions with Arto Anttila, Jeff Parrott, and Sharon Klein and from audiences at NYU and Stanford. E. W. Gilman called our attention to several relevant articles, and Maryam Bakht-Rofheart, Erik Falkensteen, Bill Haddican, and Ken Lacy provided us with relevant examples from the media. We also thank Sandra Singler Harding, Tom Leu, Erez Levon, Pat Reilly, and Arnold Zwicky. The quotation from an Episcopal missionary appears courtesy of The Archives of the Episcopal Church USA. We thank Jennifer Peters, archivist, and her staff for their assistance.

Copyright

References

Hide All

REFERENCES

Abney, Steven. (1987). The English Noun Phrase in its sentential aspect. Doctoral dissertation, MIT.
Aissen, Judith. (1999). Markedness and subject choice in Optimality Theory. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 17:673711.
Al-Banyan, Ahmed, & Preston, Dennis R. (1998). What is Standard American English? Studia Anglica Posnaniensia 33:2946.
Angermeyer, Philipp, Cutler, Cecilia, Fernandes, Keith, & Singler, John Victor. (1998). The use of the Internet as a source of data: Case marking in co-ordinate np's. Paper presented at NWAVE-XXVII, Athens, Georgia.
Angermeyer, Philipp, & Singler, John Victor. (2002). A quantitative analysis of untriggered reflexives in co-ordinate np's in American English. Paper presented at NWAV-XXXI, Stanford, California.
Bernstein, Theodore M. (1965). The careful writer: A modern guide to English usage. New York: Atheneum.
Boyland, Joyce Tang. (2001). Hypercorrect pronoun cases in English? Cognitive processes that account for pronoun usage. In Joan Bybee & Paul Hopper (eds.), Frequency and the emergence of linguistic structure. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 383404.
Brown, Roger. (1996). Against my better judgment: An intimate memoir of an eminent gay psychologist. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press.
Brown, Roger, & Gilman, Albert. (1960). The pronouns of power and solidarity. In Thomas Sebeok (ed.), Style in language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 253276.
Cameron, Deborah. (1995). Verbal hygiene. London: Routledge.
Chomsky, Noam. (1986). Barriers. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Copperud, Roy H. (1980). American usage and style: The consensus. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
Crystal, David. (1988). The English language. London: Penguin.
DeLancey, Scott. (1981). An interpretation of split ergativity. Language 57:626657.
Dickens, Charles (“Boz”). (1840). The old curiosity shop. Philadelphia: T. B. Peterson and Brothers.
Dickens, Charles (1907). The old curiosity shop. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
Dickens, Charles (1908). The old curiosity shop. New York: E. F. Dutton.
Dickens, Charles (1936). The old curiosity shop. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons.
Dickens, Charles (1943). The old curiosity shop. New York: Dodd, Mead.
Dickens, Charles (1998). The old curiosity shop. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dickens, Charles (n.d.). The old curiosity shop. http://books.mirror.org/dickens/curiosity/s002.html [Chapter 2] and http://books.mirror.org/dickens/curiosity.txt [entire text]
Dixon, R. M. W. (1994.) Ergativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Easson, Gordon J. (1998). Variable case marking for you and I. Paper presented at NWAVE-XXVII, Athens, Georgia.
Easson, Gordon J. (2000). Cross-border effects of education on ‘correct’ speech. University of Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics 18:1120.
Eckert, Penelope, & McConnell-Ginet, Sally. (1992). Think practically and look locally: Language and gender as community-based practice. Annual Review of Anthropology 21:461490.
Emonds, Joseph. (1986). Grammatically deviant prestige constructions. In Michael Brame, Helen Contreras, & Frederick Newmeyer (eds.), A festschrift for Sol Saporta. Seattle: Noit Amrofer. 93129.
Finlayson, Rosalie. (1981). Hlonipha—The women's language of avoidance among the Xhosa. Studies in African Linguistics, Supplement 8: Précis from the 12th Conference on African Linguistics 2528.
Fowler, Henry W. (1930). A dictionary of modern English usage. Oxford: Clarendon.
Fowler, Henry W. (1965). A dictionary of modern English usage ( rev. 2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Fowler, Henry W. (1996). The new Fowler's modern English usage ( 3rd ed.), R. W. Burchfield (ed.). Oxford: Clarendon.
Greene, Barbara. (1938). Land benighted. London: Geoffrey Bles.
Greene, Barbara. (1981/1990). Too late to turn back [re-issue of Land benighted]. London: Settle & Bendall.
Hawkins, John A. (1994). A performance theory of order and constituency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Heath, Shirley Brice. (1980). Standard English: Biography of a symbol. In Timothy Shopen & Joseph M. Williams (eds.), Standards and dialects in English. Cambridge, MA: Winthrop. 332.
Hock, Hans Henrich, & Joseph, Brian D. (1996). Language history, language change, and language relationship: An introduction to historical and comparative linguistics. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Honey, John. (1995). A new rule for the Queen and I? English Today 11(4):38.
James, Deborah. (1996). Women, men and prestige speech forms: A critical review. In Victoria L. Bergvall, Janet M. Bing, & Alice F. Freed (eds.), Rethinking language and gender research: Theory and practice. New York: Longman. 98125.
Jespersen, Otto. (1954). A modern English grammar on historical principles. Part VII. Syntax. London: George Allen & Unwin.
Johannessen, Janne Bondi. (1998). Coordination. New York: Oxford University Press.
Klein, Sharon M. (2000). How might we reconsider teaching grammar? CLS 36: The Panels. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society. 223237.
Kuno, Susumu. (1976). Subject, theme and the speaker's emphathy—A reexamination of relativisation phenomena. In Charles Li (ed.), Subject and topic. New York: Academic. 417444.
Labov, William. (1972). Sociolinguistic patterns. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Labov, William. (1966/1982). The social stratification of English in New York City. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.
Labov, William. (2001). Principles of linguistic change: Social factors. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Lasnik, Howard, & Sobin, Nicholas. (2000). The who/whom puzzle: On the preservation of an archaic feature. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 18:343371.
Leonard, Stirling Andrus. (1962). The doctrine of correctness in English usage, 1700–1800. New York: Russell & Russell. [Originally published in 1929: University of Wisconsin Studies in Language and Literature, 25.]
Liles, Bruce. (1979). A basic grammar of Modern English. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
McDonald, J. L., Bock, J. K., & Kelly, M. H. (1993). Word and world order: Semantic, phonological, and metrical determinants of serial position. Cognitive Psychology 25:188230.
Mencken, Henry Louis. (1921). The American language: An inquiry into the development of English in the United States ( 3rd ed.). New York: Knopf.
Merriam-Webster's dictionary of English usage. (1994). E. Ward Gilman (ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.
Milroy, James, & Milroy, Lesley. (1991). Authority in language: Investigating language prescription and standardisation. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Milroy, Lesley. (1987). Language and social networks (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell.
Naro, Anthony J. (1981). The social and structural dimensions of a syntactic change. Language 57:6398.
Olson, Gary A., & Faigley, Lester. (1991). Language, politics, and composition: A conversation with Noam Chomsky. Journal of Advanced Composition 11:135.
Osgood, C. E., & Bock, J. K. (1977). Salience and sentencing: Some production principles. In S. Rosenberg (ed.), Sentence production: Developments in research and theory, Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. 89140.
Parker, Frank, Riley, Kathryn, & Meyer, Charles F. (1988). Case assignment and the ordering of constituents in coordinate constructions. American Speech 63:214233.
Parker, Frank, Riley, Kathryn, & Meyer, Charles F. (1990). Untriggered reflexive pronouns in English. American Speech 65:5069.
Parrott, Jeffrey. (2001). Explaining variable linear ordering asymmetries in English: A morphological alternative. Paper presented at the Asymmetry conference, Université du Québec à Montréal.
Pinker, Steven. (1995). The language instinct. New York: HarperPerennial.
Plantinga, Alvin. (1998). Reply to McMullin. In David L. Hull & Michael Ruse (eds.), The philosophy of biology. New York: Oxford. 734. [Originally published in 1966: Faith and Philosophy 13:368.]
Preston, Dennis R. (2002). Good and bad English in the United States. In Richard Watts & Peter Trudgill (eds.), Alternative histories of English. New York: Routledge. 134151.
Quattlebaum, Judith. (1994). A study of case assignment in coordinate noun phrases. Language Quarterly 32(3–4):13147.
Quirk, Randolph, Greenbaum, Sidney, Leech, Geoffrey, & Svartik, Jan. (1985). A comprehensive grammar of the English language. London: Longman.
Rand, David, & Sankoff, David. (1990). Goldvarb, version 2: A variable rule application for the Macintosh. Université de Montréal, Centre de recherches mathématiques.
Redfern, Richard K. (1994). Is between you and I good English? In Greta D. Little & Michael Montgomery (eds.), Centennial usage studies. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. 187193.
Redfern, Richard K. (1996). Pronouns are highly personal. English Journal (November):8081.
Reinhart, Tany, & Reuland, Eric. (1993). Reflexivity. Linguistic Inquiry 24:657720.
Rickford, John R., Wasow, Thomas A., Mendoza-Denton, Norma, & Espinoza, Juli. (1995). Syntactic variation and change in progress: Loss of the verbal coda in topi-restricting as far as constructions. Language 71:102131.
Safire, William. (1997, February 9). Of ‘of a.’ New York Times Magazine. 1920.
Schütze, Carson T. (2001). On the nature of default case. Syntax 4:205238.
Silverman, Jay, Hughes, Elaine, & Wienbroer, Diana Roberts. (1996). Rules of thumb: A guide for writers ( 3rd ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Silverstein, Michael. (1976). Hierarchy of features and ergativity. In R. M. W. Dixon (ed.), Grammatical categories in Australian languages. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aborginal Studies. 112171.
Silverstein, Michael. (1986/1995). Language and the culture of gender: At the intersection of structure, usage, and ideology. In Ben G. Blount (ed.), Language, culture, and society: A book of readings. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. 513550. [Originally published in Elizabeth Mertz & Richard Parmentier (eds.), Semiotic mediation. Orlando: Academic. 220–259.]
Simon, John. (1980). Paradigms lost: Reflections on literacy and its decline. New York: Clarkson N. Potter.
Sobin, Nicholas. (1994). An acceptable ungrammatical construction. In Susan D. Lima, Roberta L. Corrigan, & Gregory K. Iverson (eds.), The reality of linguistic rules. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 5165.
Sobin, Nicholas. (1997). Agreement, default rules, and grammatical viruses. Linguistic Inquiry 28:318343.
Streicher, Bernard J., Kammer, Michael P., & Mulligan, Charles W. (1996). Writing handbook ( 2nd ed.). Chicago: Loyola.
Sweet, Henry. (1891/1900). A new English grammar, logical and historical. Part I: Introduction, phonology, and accidence. Oxford: Clarendon.
Trollope, Anthony. (1964/1861). Framley parsonage. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Wasow, Thomas. (1997). Remarks on grammatical weight. Language Variation and Change 9:81105.
Wasow, Thomas. (2002). Postverbal behavior. Stanford: Center for the Study of Language and Information.
Wyld, Henry Cecil. (1920/1953). A history of Modern Colloquial English. London: Lund Humphries.

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed