Re: Me vs. Myself

Subject: Re: Me vs. Myself
From: Joanna Sheldon <cjs10 -at- CORNELL -dot- EDU>
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 1995 21:20:32 -0400

Cathy wrote:
>From a recent post:

> . . . . a statement that has met with widespread disagreement from many on
this list > (including myself).


>This is not a flame, but when did "myself" replace "me"? In the last
>couple of years, I've seen regular use of "myself" in print, heard it on
>broadcasts (TV and radio) from professional broadcasters and writers in
>statements I thought should have been "me," and am curious. Did I miss a
>change in usage? Or have I been wrong all these years?

Cathy, I hope you're not really doubting yourself. It's too bad, but
"myself" has usurped the place of "me" in a lot of folks' speech -- I
suppose because the object pronoun "me" has been so often used wrongly as a
subject pronoun (in sentences like, "Me and Roy went for coffee") -- and the
thought is, if I use "myself" I can't go wrong. Which means you get
sentences like "Myself and Roy went for coffee." No kidding.

Of course we should say, "Roy and I went for coffee" (where "I" is one of
the two subjects). And we should say, "The note is from me," or "for me" or
"by me" or "from/for/by Nancy and me" (where "me" is the object of the
preposition). The rule to keep in mind about "I" and "me" is that they
should come second in sentences that involve you and someone else.

English is full of wonderful sel-contradictions, and one of them involves
"me," when it is used emphatically. For example, if someone says "Who is
it?" according to old Anglo-Saxon grammar you're supposed to answer, "It is
I," but after the Normans invaded England in 1066 we started taking on some
Frenchy expressions, and I think one of them was the delightful "moi" --
which the French use as an emphatic subject pronoun. So we got to saying,
"It's me." And I think, since the practice has been around for at least 500
years, we should allow ourselves the luxury of that simple elegance. I hope
I'll never hear anyone say, "It's myself."

I've made the sad observation that it's usually people over 40 with prep
school educations who know how to use "me" correctly. As for me -- I had
the (mis?)fortune to have a grammarian and a linguist for parents.

...JS


Dr. Joanna Sheldon
Technical Writer, Translator
(French, German, Italian)
cjs10 -at- cornell -dot- edu


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