Me, myself

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Me, myself

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jul 14, 2010, 1:13pm

"If you need more information, call John Doe or myself". Am I right in saying this is incorrect? Or am I just being picky? Why are people so reluctant to say the word "me"?

Until recently I worked at a university and often heard this sort of phrasing - and always from well-educated professionals. It began to stand out from everything else that was said, like an annoying mannerism.

I thought the test was to omit John Doe, which in this case would leave the ridiculous "If you need more information call myself".

Is this a Canadian quirk or is it widespread?

jul 14, 2010, 5:45pm

I hear this silliness on the East Coast of the United States. It's illogical, but a habit, I expect. One day, alas, it may become standard.

jul 14, 2010, 10:11pm

Why are people so reluctant to say the word "me"?

Don't ask I. Me myself suspects it's a result of being corrected about using "I" for "me" or vice versa too many times and being afraid to say "me" ever again :)

jul 15, 2010, 1:51am

Ah yes, I remember my friend correcting his son for saying "Take Wendy and me to the store". Friend simply did not believe me that his little kid was right.

jul 15, 2010, 3:26am

I'd say it's dialectal and not silliness. In Hibernian English, for example, it's common. I assume it's because of the underlying Irish substratum where there's a marked form mise that's frequently used instead of the unmarked form .

Anyhow: Dialectal.

jul 15, 2010, 10:29am

Myself is often used in contexts where me is not emphatic enough, or where speakers explicitly point to themselves rather than another party. From that perspective a sentence like "If you need more information, call John Doe or myself" is perfectly acceptable. Omitting "John Doe" takes away the need for emphasis, and that makes "If you need more information call myself" so ungrammatical.

jul 15, 2010, 11:04pm

This mildly bugs me also on the grammatical analysis level (but mostly just amuses me as an example of people trying extra-hard to be correct and ending up the opposite), as "myself" is in the reflexive case, not objective.

Funny that no one ever says, when standing at a podium with a woman, "Thank you on behalf of herself and me."

I think it stems from children being heavily corrected for saying, for example, "He went with me and her" instead of "her and me" because according to social/etiquette standards, one must always put others before oneself. Children are also corrected (correctly) for saying "Me and Joe went with her" (as that would call for the subjective "I"). Also, the '70s being labeled as the "me" generation put a negative connotation on the word "me." Finally, sometime after "Beowulf" was written, case-marker-rich Anglo-Saxon lost most of its case markers *except for the pronouns* and became largely a word order language, so most people who haven't studied language have no natural, unstudied understanding of case. This is just my theory.

1: You are right in saying it's incorrect. It's widespread, not just in Canada.
5: This shows up so much in America, I seriously doubt the phenomenon has to do with the historical linguistic intermingling of Anglo-Saxon and Gaelic influences. Again, I just have the theory I've noted, that it's a sign of word usage insecurity, not a dialect--I don't have any actual data to back me up (back up myself?).

jul 16, 2010, 2:22am

>5 anglemark: Perhaps dialectal in the speech community you mention. This does not explain it being used by Americans who never knew any Gaelic and aren't of Irish extraction. So where did they learn this?