P*rl in Latin, whither Python?

Peter Hansen peter at engcorp.com
Sun Nov 19 07:09:20 CET 2000


Tim Hammerquist wrote:
> 
> Samuel A. Falvo II <kc5tja at garnet.armored.net> wrote:
> > On Sat, 18 Nov 2000 15:06:48 -0500, Peter Hansen wrote:
> > >Sorry, you're disqualified.  It should have been:
> > >
> > >  ooh! ooh! I, I!
> >
> > Sorry, but that's not true.  "Me!", when used in this context, is an
> > imperative, as in, "Give it to me!" or, "Notice me!"
> 
> Agreed.  This follows the French in saying 'Moi' (me) in this same context.
> However, Spanish _does_ use "yo" (I) in this context.
> 
> If Mr. Hansen wishes to push the issue, we can start by tackling the
> issue of a famous greeting: "It's me."  In strict grammatical terms,
> the subject (It) and the object (me), linked by a verb of being (is),
> are in conflict with each other.  However, this also follows the French idiom
> of "C'est moi" (It's me.)   Spanish, however, uses "Soy yo" in this
> case (literally: "I am I"), which agrees all 'round.  I would suggest
> that Mr. Hansen take up Spanish.  ;)
   ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
No thanks.  I tried but Esperanto ten times easier and more rewarding.

Interesting background on *idioms* in other languages, however, but for
proper English usage I'll merely defer to *the* book on the subject, "A
Dictionary of Modern English Usage" by H.W.Fowler, 2nd Edition, (Oxford
at the Clarendon Press, 1965).

In the section on "I" (p. 258), one finds: "*Between you and I* is a
piece of false grammer which, though often heard, is not sanctioned,
like its opposites *It's me* and *That's him*, even in colloquial
usage."

The technically incorrect but nevertheless completely accepted usage is
simply an idiom which, since 1965, has surely grown ever more
"sanctioned in colloquial usage".  The fact that other languages follow
(or lead, as you suggest) the incorrect usage means nothing.  The
problem here is that "to be" is what is known as a "copulative" verb,
which links a subject to a complement, rather than to an object.  "Me"
is an object, and can never be used after a form of "to be".  (I make
this sweeping generalization without thorough thought, merely to leave
open the possibility that someone will notice an instance where I'm
wrong, and jump on it and me.  If I didn't do this, this thread might
actually die. ;-)

I agree the cry "Me, me!" refers to the imperative, as you mention.  The
original writer was not, however, asking for something to be given to
him, but was holding himself out as someone who "get's it right every
time", with respect to "they're" vs. "their".  Since the focus was on
correct grammatical usage, rather than a ready grasp of idiomatic usage,
I judged "Me, me" incorrect, with the full weight of a single
individual's opinion backing up my view, which is all Usenet has ever
required. :)

pedantical-ly-but-with-an-attempt-at-subtle-humor-ly yrs,
Peter Hansen



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