Me, Myself and I.

A column from The Daily Telegraph by Tom Chivers on the subject of one of my pet hates, the pointless upgrading of me to myself.

Often it is used in place of ‘I’, as if in place of me wasn’t bad enough. To demonstrate how silly this usage is and this is how it usually works, maybe you say, Tom and myself went for a beer. If Tom changes his mind and you go alone, would you say, Myself went for a beer?

Another one he touches on, momentarily for in a moment, you hear it on the radio all the time.

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24 Responses to Me, Myself and I.

  1. sz says:

    another one constantly used incorrectly is whom
    I once heard a highly respected interviewer [but cant recall right now whom... ;)] saying “and whom should that be?”

    • ligneus says:

      Yes, I’ve seen whom a lot lately. Since ‘who’ is acceptable in either case these days I don’t know why people don’t just stick to that.

  2. Terry says:

    Whom is the objective case of who.
    My first wish for the English language is that we would return to using a singular pronoun to refer to an individual person.

    • sz says:

      aaaah, then you would hug me to bits, because I refuse to capitulate on that one; hence, when translating, I either change the subject to plural and avoid the genderized ‘he’ implying ‘anyone’, or if that’s unavoidable, I use his or her , or she or he – but this is mostly applicable in somewhat academic material which is more careful with its language usage in the first place [though not by much]. What I’ll do is –
      An individual must be willing to expose her or his thoughts fully if progress is to be made bla bla bla bla
      OR Individuals must be willing to expose their thoughts bla bla bla

      sigh sigh sigh

      • Llanfar says:

        Did you use a dash due to your stated aversion to colons? :) The colon (and a ‘;’ to separate choices) is IMO the correct usage.

        My peeves are the use of 2 spaces after a sentence, and putting the period outside of the parenthesis.

        • sz says:

          that’s funny, Llanfar. Dashes the way I used them is brit. Fullstop inside the parenthesis is as odd for me as it is inside a quot’n mark. If you took the paranthetical text away, you’d be taking the fullstop away too! The endless sentence. Like items in a store with no price tag. I once picked up a bit of kitsch junk in a gift shop; no price tag. Straight-faced, I took it over to the shopkeeper, showed it to her, moved it around and asked the shopkeeper if the item was priceless. She didnt get it. ah well. So you’d have us served endless sentences, eh? As for 2 spaces, again, standard non-US convention. What’s wrong with it, eh? Personally, I find it gives the eye time to glimpse ahead without feeling the page is cluttered.

          • Llanfar says:

            I was unaware of the non-US convention using 2 spaces following a sentence closure. I’ll mellow my stance.

            A break in sword play
            Now foils in punctuation
            Before autumn’s lay

          • sz says:

            hey Llanfar, that’s very good ! enjoyed!

          • Llanfar says:

            /blush

            Words mean things – my mantra as a software developer. Haiku is a great way to distill thoughts while maintaining clarity.

          • sz says:

            btw, go here, read the 2nd post, and you cd if you want follow up with wiki; but the info regarding typesetter vs. grammatical provides the precise reasons for the differences. So the US tends to use both styles depending on purpose; the Brits tend to use one style. The issue of grammatics is, of course, the source of my explanation above for why a fullstop can’t go inside parentheses or quotes if it’s the only one in the sentence meant to indicate end-of-sentence.

            lovely stuff
            worth reading and at least knowing about

            http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/ask-teacher/80047-punctuation-u-s-v-s-british-style.html

            yes, words do, dont they just!

  3. Phil in San Fran says:

    I think one hears “myself” in sentences these days because speakers are confused about when to use “I” and “me,” which themselves are often errantly transposed. They think “myself” will shield them from employing “me” incorrectly.

    • Ligneus says:

      Here in Toronto we had a huge post war influx of non English speaking Europeans, they all learned English on the job as it were and inevitably their grammar was poor [not to mention their accents!] Their kids grew up speaking English as a first language [except at home where they would speak their parents language] so they had a perfect Canadian accent and spoke fluently but would pick up some of their parents grammatical errors and of course the schools being what they are now, were never corrected. Many of them ended up on radio and TV, listeners would hear these errors constantly repeated and they would become part of their everyday speech too. There is also the current lax undisciplined ethos in the schools that frowns on the fusty old concern with grammar, it interferes with their God [oops] given right to ‘express’ their feelings you know.

  4. Tim Murphy says:

    I’ve got all sorts of grammatical bugbears, starting with the split infinitive. To satirize Star Trek, “to boldly split infinitives where it’s never been done before.” I’ve never committed this sin in my life, not in my writing, not in casual, even drunken, speech.

    The second is the preservation of the subjunctive mood in verbs. If I were to read a newspaper, I would throw up.

    The third is the misuse of apostrophes in verbs. Ron, you are the worst sinner I have ever seen in this regard. Your second language usage is admirable, but you make this elementary mistake in almost every sentence.

    I swear there are no capable copy editors left. What I read is replete with these crimes against our language.

    • Ligneus says:

      The second is the preservation of the subjunctive mood in verbs

      Some feign amusement at the French and their Academie Francaise dedicated to the preservation of the purity of the language [woe betide foreigners who fail to use the subjunctive] and its fight against the infiltration of English words like ‘le weekend’ and ‘l’ hamburger’ but they have a point and learning a complex language like French correctly must do wonders for the brain power of the people.

      Then there are eggcorns. Strictly speaking they are errors, but creative errors and fascinating too. The word to describe them derives from calling acorns, eggcorns. Makes sense doesn’t it? There is a database for them. My favourite is saying ‘mute’ for moot. It makes sense no?

  5. Bob says:

    I cringe at “between he and I”.

    Incidentally, what’s the rule on the quotation mark and period? It seems to me that the period ought to live outside of the qm, but I remember something from Harbrace Handbook that said commas and periods belonged inside the qm and question marks, exclamation points, etc. belonged outside.

    • sz says:

      This is the area that rouses my greatest peeves, Bob. Punctuation. I was taught Brit English. Quotation marks were to enclose whatever was actually said, including any exclamatory markers, and not do some kind of double-time work. Hence, if Joe said, sheesh, I’m starved! and that came at the end of a sentence, there’d be this punctuation:
      Joe said, “Sheesh, I’m starved!”. In other words, the exclamation mark belongs to the quoted speech, not to the sentence per se, which is how US English uses it. I’ve noticed US English uses a colon instead of the comma after “said”, and there would be no fullstop after the quot’n mark. This implies that the sentence has never been ‘closed’, and yet it would be followed by another with its opening caps. If there were no need for an exclamation/question mark, there wd just be the closing quote, then the fullstop. Even more of a stumbling block is a quote within a quote, the proverbial “[text] ‘[quoted text]‘.” You just about never ever ever see that done correctly any more.

      it’s and its drives me nuts [but I forgive Ron, who did not adopt English as a youngster] and most of all, “proactive”.

      Additionally, in this day and age of supershort technology messaging, language is so abused that it’s close to impossible to untangle that when the groundwork has never been properly laid in the first place. So, when a text uses shortcuts such as thr yr boox ill bring them2 class who can remember, years down the road, if that’s “your” or “you’re” , “their” or “there”?

      • ligneus says:

        Seree, I checked my Penelope Fitzgerald on the colon after “said”, she uses a comma. You can’t get much more educated authentic English than PF. Have you read any of her novels?

  6. ligneus says:

    PF’s obituary.

    Any division of this kind, however, tends to obscure the essential homogeneity of Fitzgerald’s work. The qualities which make her writing unique are present in all of it, and her style is unmistakable. There is no sentence which could have been written by anyone else, just as no one has ever been able to repeat her peculiar blend of deadpan, slightly surreal, comedy, moral sensitivity and sober dubiety.

    What is striking is the accuracy of her observation, the aesthetically satisfying precision with which, stylistically, the arrow goes straight into the centre of the gold. The economy with which she achieved her effects – “I always feel the reader is very insulted by being told too much,” she said – and her ability to combine a microscopic with a panoramic perspective, made most other contemporary novels appear flatulent and over-written.

    See also Hermione Lee on PF.

  7. Terry says:

    In his column published today, Dana Milbank of the WaPo says that during a recent supreme court hearing, one of the justices “verged on outright heckling” one of the lawyers. I can see how a person’s words could be considered “outright heckling”, or “verge on heckling”, but I don’t see how both could be true at the same time.
    The Wikipedia says Milbank is a Yalie. Didn’t Bush go to Yale? Maybe that explains Milbank’s odd use of the language.

  8. Tim Murphy says:

    It is true that Bush twice said subliminable. He was distracted by the execution of a criminable.

  9. R. de Haan says:

    All I can say is this, we’re clever monkey’s and this kind of behavior is as old as Matusalem.

    The most irritating of all the examples sketched in the article is missing.

    It’s when people, especially politicians, elevate their objectives and cause with God.

    Screw them all.

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