Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

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
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Aissen, Judith. (1999). Markedness and subject choice in Optimality Theory. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 17:673711.

DeLancey, Scott. (1981). An interpretation of split ergativity. Language 57:626657.

Eckert, Penelope, & McConnell-Ginet, Sally. (1992). Think practically and look locally: Language and gender as community-based practice. Annual Review of Anthropology 21:461490.

Honey, John. (1995). A new rule for the Queen and I? English Today 11(4):38.

Lasnik, Howard, & Sobin, Nicholas. (2000). The who/whom puzzle: On the preservation of an archaic feature. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 18:343371.

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.

Naro, Anthony J. (1981). The social and structural dimensions of a syntactic change. Language 57:6398.

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.

Redfern, Richard K. (1996). Pronouns are highly personal. English Journal (November):8081.

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.

Schütze, Carson T. (2001). On the nature of default case. Syntax 4:205238.

Wasow, Thomas. (1997). Remarks on grammatical weight. Language Variation and Change 9:81105.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Language Variation and Change
  • ISSN: 0954-3945
  • EISSN: 1469-8021
  • URL: /core/journals/language-variation-and-change
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×