IN LOVE WITH HE.

No matter how jaded I think I’ve gotten, no matter how sure I am that I’ve seen it all, something is bound to come along to throw me for a loop. This time it’s Lucy Ferriss’s latest Lingua Franca post. I’ve long been accustomed to hearing things like “He gave it to John and I”; I used to make the common mistake of thinking it was hypercorrection before it was explained to me that it was a special case of coordinate construction (see Philipp S. Angermeyer and John Victor Singler, “The case for politeness: Pronoun variation in co-ordinate NPs in object position in English,” Language Variation and Change 15, July 2003, pp 171-209; abstract). But Ferriss takes us all the way down the slippery slope from that to Colin Powell’s “I’ll be voting for he and for Vice President Joe Biden” to… well, I’ll let her tell it:

Which brings us to this week. Although I’ve given examples from public figures, my attention on a daily basis goes to my students. And for reasons I haven’t investigated, this past week I received two student stories with new examples of the nominative pronoun used in the objective position. The first wrote, “I didn’t think I was in love with he, but I couldn’t be sure.” The second wrote, “For they, it wasn’t that important.” No coordinator in either example. And then, at a social gathering, I overheard a woman say, “She gave it to I—I mean to me—oh, I don’t know any more.”

I never in a million years would have guessed that native speakers of English, in my lifetime, would be confused as to whether to say “She gave it to I” or “She gave it to me.” Language change can happen fast!
(I think we can take it as read that this is not acceptable English and will not be acceptable English in the foreseeable future; I realize many readers of this post will have the automatic bristling “see, it’s all going to hell” reaction, but frankly that’s not a very interesting reaction even if it’s harmless and inevitable.)

Comments

  1. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but gilliland undeleted his LJ. Again. (*snicker*)
    The new posts are pretty good, though.

  2. marie-lucie says:

    A few years ago I heard an interview with a writer from the Caribbean, who also read a piece from her writing. She spoke Standard English, but her writing included dialogues in Caribbean English, where “she” was the only pronoun used, never “her” (I don’t remember whether “she” or “her” was used as a possessive). I wonder if Colin Powell’s “voting for he” reflects his Caribbean origin (as perhaps spoken by his parents). I have not read Ferriss’s article, but does she comment on her students’ backgrounds?

  3. No, which is why I assume they’re speakers of relatively standard English; surely if they were from the Caribbean and spoke that variety of English she would have mentioned it.
    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but gilliland undeleted his LJ. Again.
    I hadn’t noticed, so thanks!

  4. I think that Powell’s remark is a hypercorrection of “I’ll be voting for he and Vice President Biden”, which fits the normal rule. By putting the coordinate objects into separate prepositional phrases, the result comes out ungrammatical.

  5. J.W. Brewer says:

    Does “for he and Vice President Biden” really fit the “normal” rule, i.e. the now-well-established variant for coordinate objects? My impression was that was much more common in the form e.g. “for Vice President Biden and he,” where the coordinated bit is ordered such that the unexpectedly-cased pronoun is not immediately adjacent to the preposition. Thus, “between you and I” is (i believe, subject to correction) much more common than “between I and you.”
    If my younger daughter’s practice as a toddler was representative, the older pattern of kids having a phrase where they treat the accusative/oblique/whatever pronouns as the universal/default variety (i.e. using me/her/them even in contexts where I/she/they is obligatory in the standard adult variety) is still alive and well.

  6. J.W. Brewer says:

    Um, “having a phrase” should read “having a phase.”

  7. I blame the insidious influence of formal written English, “business English,” disingenuous grammar advice columns, and so on. We are witnessing the development of a formal register of English that no one actually has native intuition for.

  8. Language: I never in a million years would have guessed that native speakers of English, in my lifetime, would be confused as to whether to say “She gave it to I” or “She gave it to me.” Language change can happen fast!
    +
    Language: this is not acceptable English and will not be acceptable English in the foreseeable future
    Surely if it’s language change then it’s acceptable, like it or not. not?

  9. That not? shouldn’t be there. Don’t know where it came from, frankly.

  10. I’m afraid I still make that old mistake of thinking it is hypercorrection. And their labelling suggests exactly that:
    Vernacular me and X and two post-Vernacular patterns, Standard X and me and Polite X and I.
    The post-Vernacular patterns include the original Vernacular pattern (now labelled ‘Standard’) and a ‘Polite’ version. Calling it ‘Polite’ doesn’t mean that it didn’t arise from hypercorrection. It just means that the hypercorrected version has become accepted as an attempt to be polite. (The Polite version actually arose from people trying to avoid the Vernacular me and x in subject position, which grammarians said was ‘incorrect’. The resulting avoidance behaviour then spread to object position in ‘polite speech’.)

  11. David Marjanović says:

    Well, it was only a question of time. Nominative vs. dative/accusative isn’t marked on nouns or adjectives (whom is dead), word order completely disambiguates it, the dative/accusative forms have long been used (perhaps under French influence) as stressed versions of the nominative forms (who – me?), and then there’s prescriptivism against that latter rule, leading to confusion that is most easily dealt with by simplifying the problem out of existence.
    A few months ago I asked a native speaker if “for X and I” was a deliberate (hyper)correction or came naturally to them. They said it came naturally to them. I think that’s the same person who said that, for them, while the plural of mouse was still mice, the plural of field mouse was field mouses.

  12. Surely if it’s language change then it’s acceptable, like it or not.
    It’s acceptable to a linguist, but I was using the word in its more common sense “acceptable to the average educated speaker.”
    Calling it ‘Polite’ doesn’t mean that it didn’t arise from hypercorrection.
    No, but the fact that there’s no evidence whatever for hypercorrection strongly suggests that.

  13. Do you have any evidence to prove there’s no evidence?

  14. whom is dead
    … Suddenly from the island of Paxi was heard the voice of someone loudly calling Thamus. Twice he was called and made no reply, but the third time he answered; and the caller, raising his voice, said, ‘When you come opposite to Palodes, announce that Whom is dead.’ So, when he came opposite Palodes, Thamus, from the stern, said the words as he had heard them: ‘Whom is dead.’ Even before he had finished there was a great cry of lamentation, not of one person, but of many, mingled with exclamations of ‘You mean “Who is dead!”‘

  15. Matt Trevaud’s anecdote reminds me of the phrase (said in authoritarian tone without interogative inflection) “What is the password.’

  16. I is somebody else. Or maybe me? Or is it he perhaps? ‘Oh, I don’t know any more’…
    On a side note, I can confirm that, like in the Caribbean, Martian Creole doesn’t make the difference between he and him: it’s all li (i.e. either il or lui in the language the pronoun was originally taken from), which can also be she or her, or even it. But however strange that may sound to some, it never causes confusion among speakers.
    So English might as well drop either I or me altogether, methinks. Or “me thinks”? No, methought*: keep them all after all, I and me, us and them, he and him, she and her — and their friends’ friends as well. The more the merrier.
     
    * methought: “Archaic” says my copy of the Collins English Dictionary, which suits me well enough

  17. Nominative pronouns follow some verbs. For instance, “Don’t tell I, tell’ee!”(“Don’t tell me, tell him!”), “‘ey give I fifty quid and I zay no, giv’ee to charity inztead” (“They gave me £50 and I said no, give it to charity instead”). In most Germanic languages (and it is most noticeable in Icelandic) it is nominative pronouns (I, he, she) which follow the verb to be, e.g.: It is I, It is he, These are they and not It is me, It is him, These are them. However in casual Standard English the oblique case is now used. In West Country dialect however, the object of many other verbs takes the nominative case.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Country_dialects

  18. Bathrobe: Nobody was hypercorrecting anything in English back in Shakespeare’s day, and he wrote “All debts are cleared between you and I” in The Merchant of Venice.
    “Choosing a Name for Your Computer”, by Don Libes, discourages (among other proscriptions) the use of common words as computer names. In one case, a computer was named “up” because it was the only one that could make updates to a database. This led to such baffling sentences as “Is up down?” and “Boot the machine up” (inevitably followed by “Which machine?”)

  19. marie-lucie says:

    Siganus: methinks is present, methought is past. Me here is not an equivalent of I, it is like the me in French il me semble or il me faut where il does not refer to a noun but is required by the fact that the verb needs a subject. In older English the equivalent pronoun it was not required, so methinks is literally [it] thinks to me (as in the hypothetical French equivalent [il] me pense = the thought comes to me).

  20. Nobody was hypercorrecting anything in English back in Shakespeare’s day, and he wrote “All debts are cleared between you and I” in The Merchant of Venice.
    Thanks, that’s all I needed to know.

  21. dearieme says:

    How do you know that Shakespeare wasn’t thus demonstrating a shortcoming of the character into whose mouth he puts the line?

  22. Until I see a little more evidence I am skeptical there’s any real trend here, at least in the spoken language. I have never heard anyone use “I”,”she” or “he” after a preposition in speech other than in co-ordinate constructions. I can’t recall even hearing non-native English speakers make this mistake. I agree with Wimbrel that the students in Feriss’ article are probably trying to achieve a formal register that is becoming increasingly alien to the younger generation.

  23. Alexei K. says:

    I’ve never understood why the English text of the famous song goes: “But each day as she walks to the sea // she looks straight ahead, not at he”. Even after this discussion, I still don’t, other than for the sake of a rhyme.

  24. Here’s your explanation:
    While Mr. Gilberto’s soft Portuguese sets the tone for the song, it is his wife’s English response that still captivates after all this time. By all rights, it shouldn’t. Although Astrud could speak the language, her delivery was decidedly unpolished. “Before the recording, I had never sung professionally,” she says on her website—and you can hear it. Often she emphasizes the wrong sounds and seems to be enunciating phonetically. Her very first word, “tall,” comes across as “doll.” Contrary to Mr. Gimbel’s lyrics, she sings, “She looks straight ahead not at he.” It was supposed to be “me.”
    “I was tearing my hair out when I learned that later,” Mr. Gimbel says. “It upset me no end.”
    But when combined with her tentative delivery, Mr. Getz’s breathy sax and Mr. Jobim’s gentle piano, the errors make the result ever so slightly foreign—just out of reach, like the girl herself, and thus irresistible.

  25. I have never heard anyone use “I”,”she” or “he” after a preposition in speech other than in co-ordinate constructions.
    Ah, the old “I haven’t heard it so it probably isn’t real” reaction—I used to have it myself until I started this blog and learned how limited my personal experience is. It’s funny, we don’t take that attitude to other things; if we see something in the paper about a weird fad among teenagers in some city we’re not familiar with, we don’t say “That’s nonsense, I’ve never seen that!” But language is different, we all feel on a gut level that the English we know is English.
    I agree with Wimbrel that the students in Feriss’ article are probably trying to achieve a formal register that is becoming increasingly alien to the younger generation.
    That doesn’t really make any sense, but I can see the appeal; it’s like the “hypercorrection” thing. So what about the “I don’t know any more” woman: was Ferriss just making it up? How many specific examples would it take to get you to think “Hmm, maybe that’s a thing, even if I personally haven’t heard it”?

  26. David Marjanović says:

    On a side note, I can confirm that, like in the Caribbean, Martian Creole doesn’t make the difference between he and him: it’s all li (i.e. either il or lui in the language the pronoun was originally taken from), which can also be she or her, or even it. But however strange that may sound to some, it never causes confusion among speakers.

    Chinese: in Mandarin it’s all tā.

    methinks. Or “me thinks”? No, methought*:

    Similarly archaizing German has both mich dünkt and mich deucht, both present tense. Both verbs don’t occur anywhere else; “thinks” is denkt, dictionary forms denken, dachte, gedacht.
    I don’t know why it’s the accusative – the dative is used in such constructions as mir scheint “it seems to me” (which survives in the spoken language) and mir hat geträumt “I dreamt” (which is dying out in my dialect and has been out of the standard for longer).

    In most Germanic languages (and it is most noticeable in Icelandic) it is nominative pronouns (I, he, she) which follow the verb to be, e.g.: It is I, It is he, These are they and not It is me, It is him, These are them.

    Well… to be fair… I don’t know about Icelandic, but in German the whole construction is different. Nothing translates literally as “it is I”. You have a choice between das bin ich and ich bin( e)s, literally “that am I” and “I am it”; both constructions emphasize “I”.

    How do you know that Shakespeare wasn’t thus demonstrating a shortcoming of the character into whose mouth he puts the line?

    Even if so, someone must have used that construction. Even when trying to deliberately make an obvious error of grammar, people don’t do so at random.

    if we see something in the paper about a weird fad among teenagers in some city we’re not familiar with, we don’t say “That’s nonsense, I’ve never seen that!”

    Heh. No, we say “*shrug* crazy Japanese”, because we expect that. Prejudices in different fields are different!

  27. Paul (other Paul) says:

    Common hypercorrection among telephone sales people in the UK: “I’ll post it to yourself”. Yourself seems to be used widely instead of you because it “sounds formal”.

  28. J.W. Brewer says:

    I think I’m now puzzled by whether hat thinks “hypercorrection” is even a coherent thing, as opposed to a secret crypto-prescriptivist way of deprecating a particular causal pathway by which particular people may have come to speak/write the way they do?

  29. Yourself seems to be used widely instead of you because it “sounds formal”.
    That’s interesting. To me (upstate NY raised) it sounds a bit folksy.

  30. To me (upstate NY raised) it sounds a bit folksy.
    To me it sounds a bit stage-Irish.

  31. 1-As a teacher who has marked papers in different parts of North America, I can assure Hatters that I have read sentences by native speakers of English containing forms and structures I would have sworn no native speaker of English could ever use. So arguments from personal incredulity carry even less weight than usual in these matters.
    2-Siganus: Martian /li/ certainly derives from French LUI, not IL.
    3-David: Whereas for all speakers of English “mouse” in the singular may refer either to the small mammal or to the computer tool, I *think* that for younger speakers “mice” is the plural of the word in its first meaning only and “mouses” in its second meaning only.
    4-John Cowan: “Nobody was hypercorrecting anything in English back in Shakespeare’s day”: that statement can only make sense to me if your definition of “hypercorrection” (unlike mine)somehow precludes this phenomenon from having taken place in pre-modern times. Could you elaborate, please, on what “hypercorrection” means to you?
    5-All: here’s more data on case loss in personal pronouns in English: the American humorist and song-writer Tom Lehrer (active in the sixties)once parodied “Gilbert and Sullivan”-type songs with a short composition which ended in “But I love she/And she loves me/And raptured are the both of we/As I love she/ and she loves I/And will through all eter..nity!” (where the final syllable is realized as /taj/).
    I had assumed that the originals he was mocking exhibited such confusion in case marking, but I have never been exposed to them.

  32. “Nobody was hypercorrecting anything in English back in Shakespeare’s day”: that statement can only make sense to me if your definition of “hypercorrection” (unlike mine)somehow precludes this phenomenon from having taken place in pre-modern times. Could you elaborate, please, on what “hypercorrection” means to you?
    Since hypercorrection presupposes an agreed-upon set of “grammatical rules” the hypercorrector is trying ignorantly to emulate, it has been possible only since such rules began to be laid down in the eighteenth century. Ipso facto it was impossible in Shakespeare’s day.

  33. Ah, the old “I haven’t heard it so it probably isn’t real” reaction
    No, it is more my gut reaction to a woman citing a few random examples she happened to notice during a short period of time when she was sensitive to this sort of mistake, and that she is now trying to extrapolate into a trend. I find her evidence no more compelling than my lack of evidence. Come on, you can’t seriously claim that Ferriss’ sample size is significant. I suspect you’ve become like Fox Mulder – you want to believe.
    if we see something in the paper about a weird fad among teenagers in some city we’re not familiar with, we don’t say “That’s nonsense, I’ve never seen that!”
    Actually, I would be very suspicious of such an article. There seem to be more and more generational “trend” pieces in the media, and rarely are they supported with any evidence. Journalists often write these pieces extrapolating from their own personal experience which may or may not have any relevance to the wider world.
    Here is a classic example of an NYT story on a linguistic fad that turned out to be a complete hoax: http://www.nytimes.com/1992/11/15/style/grunge-a-success-story.html?pagewanted=all
    How many specific examples would it take to get you to think “Hmm, maybe that’s a thing, even if I personally haven’t heard it”?
    Good question. I suppose I would want the researcher to have identified a few hundred examples at least. Certainly more than two or three.

  34. marie-lucie says:

    LH: Since hypercorrection presupposes an agreed-upon set of “grammatical rules” the hypercorrector is trying ignorantly to emulate, it has been possible only since such rules began to be laid down in the eighteenth century. Ipso facto it was impossible in Shakespeare’s day.
    I am not so sure. Hypercorrection probably became more common once “grammatical rules” were set up deliberately in order to “correct” the English language, which “offended” against Latin grammar (read Swift about it), but the phenomenon of people self-consciously trying to imitate their “betters”, copying their fashions, including speaking fashions, has arisen in many places when and where social conditions favoured it. Inevitably, clumsy imitation produces forms of hypercorrection.
    However, it is likely that the forms Shakespeare puts in the mouths of his characters were also in use by others. One would have to study the usages of different characters in relation to their social conditions, and also the usages of other dramatists and writers of the same period, in order to determine how to classify forms of speech that seem odd, incorrect or hypercorrect to modern speakers. (Perhaps some Shakespearean or Elizabethan scholars have already done so).

  35. To me (upstate NY raised) it sounds a bit folksy.To me it sounds a bit stage-Irish.
    Ha! The person I thought of who says that as a joke – “It’s himself!” – is Irish American.
    We’re on to something, Mr. Crown.

  36. dearieme says:

    “It’s yourself!” is used as a jokey cod-highlander greeting in Lowland Scotland.

  37. I never in a million years would have guessed that native speakers of English, in my lifetime, would be confused as to whether to say “She gave it to I” or “She gave it to me.” Language change can happen fast!
    If she’s still confused, then surely the language hasn’t changed, it’s in the process of changing and she’s wondering which is the winning side. It’s the person who confidently says between he and I whose language has changed, presumably permanently.
    On the Shakespeare thing, I have to believe that even absent Professor Higgins, people did judge you by the words you use. Think Mistress Quickly and Dogberry, for starters.

  38. No, it is more my gut reaction to a woman citing a few random examples she happened to notice during a short period of time when she was sensitive to this sort of mistake, and that she is now trying to extrapolate into a trend. I find her evidence no more compelling than my lack of evidence. Come on, you can’t seriously claim that Ferriss’ sample size is significant. I suspect you’ve become like Fox Mulder – you want to believe.
    I’m not sure you’re fully grasping the logical situation here. A grammatical rule, like a law of physics, is universal; if you violate that rule, then it’s no longer valid for your idiolect. Do you seriously think that if you listen long enough to any given English-speaker’s conversation, you’ll eventually hear “I goed” or “three mans” just out of random variation? No, you won’t, because those violate actual grammatical rules as opposed to bullshit about “It is I” or sentence-ending prepositions. Similarly, I can assert with confidence that I have never said or written “with he,” and anyone who produces such a string has had a grammatical rule change.

  39. J.W. Brewer says:

    I fear hat may be edging too close to one side of the “everything is correct” v. “nothing is relevant” false dichotomy as helpfully expressed here: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001843.html. People violate the rules of their own idiolects all the time without thereby ontologically demolishing those rules. “Mistake” is a conceptually meaningful category, even if perhaps difficult to diagnose in some marginal cases. So you need to know how consistently the odd/innovative usage occurs in the speech/writing of those Ferriss says she has observed, and under what sorts of circumstances. It’s also meaningful, I think, to ask whether the “new rule” is reflected in the idiolects of enough people who can be said to form some sort of coherent demographic subgroup that it’s evidence of a dialect/variety/register of English as opposed to just evidence that some people’s idiolects have idiosyncracies.

  40. Indeed, I think we can usefully define a linguistic mistake as something which, if you record it and confront the speaker with it, they reply “Oops.” To quote myself from an earlier LH post:

    So in the linguistically informed world of the future, the student who writes “The narrator of Moby Dick be telling us to call him Ishmael” gets two marks on his paper, a red one for failing to use Standard English in a student essay, and a green one for using the AAVE durative present when the immediate present is called for. To the first, he replies “It’s because I’m black, isn’t it?”; to the second, “Yeah, you right, I was tired.”

  41. A grammatical rule, like a law of physics, is universal;
    I’ll grant that. And in any case we are all, here, already familiar with idiolects of English that produce “with I” or “with he” as unobjectionable. Ferris may well have stumbled on a real, new, idiolect of native English speakers in Connecticut that also find this acceptable. I’m not sure how impressed I should be with this discovery. Like any mutation or language change it may establish itself in the wider world, or may quickly disappear. I understand you to be saying, and maybe I misread you, that we should see this as a widespread phenonemon, and I still see no evidence that English speakers elsewhere in the world are following this trend. Happy to have an opend mind though.

  42. Alexei K. says:

    Bathrobe: Unfortunately, that does not explain much since Astrud does not sing in the first person (which wouldn’t make much sense), but rather observes the man and the girl: “Oh, but he watches so sadly…” and so on. There’s simply no “me” in it. Only if one imagines her quoting the guy’s thoughts, suddenly switching from indirect to direct speech, can one explain the “me”. So it’s still a puzzle.

  43. Like any mutation or language change it may establish itself in the wider world, or may quickly disappear.
    Oh, absolutely, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if it disappeared without trace. Still, a surprising development (to me) even if ephemeral.
    I understand you to be saying, and maybe I misread you, that we should see this as a widespread phenonemon, and I still see no evidence that English speakers elsewhere in the world are following this trend.
    No, see above.

  44. frequency illusion alert:
    This is from a comment to the New York Times from “bronxteacher” on March 11:
    My in-laws gave my husband and I a number of fur coats…

  45. From The Useless Tree blog:
    “A flawed man, he has been unfaithful to his wife and his marriage vows, and that causes him deep shame. But that is held between he and his wife, and the bewitched mistress.”

  46. Treesong says:

    In the last couple of years I have noticed constructions like ‘to X and I’ more and more in the speech and writing of people whose English seems otherwise unexceptionable. I think it’s just moi, not a recent jump from a small number, so I’m trying to stop thinking ‘yaah, hypercorrection!’ when I encounter them.
    It seems to I an’ I that virtually all of them end in ‘I’ rather than ‘he’ or ‘she’. This post moved me to do a little Google searching. I added ‘both’ to reduce cases where ‘and’ starts a new sentence (horrors), and used ‘to’ rather than ‘with’ or ‘for’ because it seemed less likely to introduce clauses. The counts:
    +”to both you and I” 7.0M
    +”to both you and me” 13.6M
    +”to both you and he” 50M
    +”to both you and him” 9.5M
    The latter two are startling. However, paging forward reduces the 50M to 30, of which four are irrelevant: ‘My guess is that without really intending to, both you and he have…’, typo of ‘the’, etc. Trying this with the others gives (including the page of collapse):
    +”to both you and I” 298 (page 31)
    +”to both you and me” 471 (page 48)
    +”to both you and he” 30 (page 3)
    +”to both you and him” 402 (page 41)
    These numbers are mostly low because of Google’s ‘remove very similar hits’ algorithm, but they’re certainly more believable than the page-1 counts.
    Now, if we move the inflectable pronoun nearer to the preposition:
    +”to both I and you” 0 (actually 4, but in all 4 the pronouns are citation forms)
    +”to both me and you” 34 (from 1.15M on page 34)
    +”to both he and you” 5 (all real)
    +”to both you and him” 193 (from 8.2M on page 20) (page 41)
    So I suspect Ferriss’s overheard woman is still very much an outlier. In fact, it doesn’t seem implausible to me that ‘I don’t know any more’ may be a sign of flustration rather than serious uncertainty.

  47. Treesong says:

    Dammi, reread it twice and still missed something. The last search is for “to both him and you”, of course.

  48. David Marjanović says:

    So, this is the most recently continued thread that isn’t flooded with spam…
    From the closed “languages of Monastyrka” thread:

    Piaf was a singer and in her singing style she often exaggerated some features of her normal pronunciation, such as the r’s in the above words. She did not do that all the time, or while speaking: in the song Milord (pronounced “milor” in French), she sometimes uses her spoken voice, and in addressing “Milor” then her final r is a single contact.

    Of course.

    The deep uvular fricative or trill is a stigmatized feature of the working-class “accent parisien” which Piaf consciously used.

    Fricative or trill? And what is “deep”?

    Do you keep your tongue flat for /s/, or do you curl it back a bit like for English /t d/?

    I don’t curl it back at all. When I speak I put my teeth together so that the upper ones overlap only very slightly with the lower ones, and the tip of my tongue then presses slightly against the teeth, close to where they join.
    Laminal. If it’s apical-alveolar, it can’t be apico-dental at the same time (apico-dental plosives occur all over India and Australia).

    If I want to produce a hissing sound in a non-speaking context (eg to imitate some animal), I keep my jaws closed, with my lips spread as in a thin smile, and it is more the front part of my tongue rather than just the tip which presses against my teeth.

    Laminal again, unless your molars and premolars are very long indeed.

  49. Alexei K. says:

    In “The House of Lies”, episode 3, season 2, Jeannie the successful young consultress asks back, “Between him and I?” She’s presumably an Ivy League graduate coming from a rather modest family.

  50. marie-lucie says:

    DM: I not only tried to pronounce my French /r/ and /s/ but checked the positions in a mirror.
    For /s/: When I speak I put my teeth together so that the upper ones overlap only very slightly with the lower ones, and the tip of my tongue then presses slightly against the teeth, close to where they join. – Laminal. If it’s apical-alveolar, it can’t be apico-dental at the same time…
    I found it hard to feel and describe exactly what my tongue tip does when I pronounce an [s], and it can’t be seen in a mirror! In any case I did not mean apico-alveolar. I think “close to where they join” may have been misleading: I did not mean “where the teeth meet the jawbone” but “where my upper and lower teeth join briefly with only a slight overlap” (as opposed to the full overlap with mouth closed and almost clenched jaw). So my normal [s] is apico-dental, I think, with the tongue tip touching the edge of both upper and lower incisors as they meet each other.
    /r/: deep uvular fricative or trill
    I meant that the phoneme can be realized as either a fricative or (for emphasis) a trill (the latter as in Piaf’s je ne rrregrrrette rrrien). “Deep” refers to the throaty impression such a pronunciation produces, as opposed to the slight contact. But my /r/ is definitely uvular not velar: I can produce it with my mouth wide open, which is not the case for even a back velar. (And I do know how to produce a uvular plosive).

  51. mollymooly says:

    “Ah, it’s yourself!” may be a useful formula when you bump into someone whose name you can’t quite remember. I’m not guaranteeing the ruse will fool anyone, mind.
    “Frasier”-‘Mother Load: Part 1’:
    Frasier: Well, it’s the end of an era.
    Martin: Yeah, it’s been the three of us under this roof for nine years.
    :
    Martin: Well, I guess from now on it’s just you and I.
    Frasier: “You and me”, Dad.
    Martin: [sotto voce] This is gonna be great.

  52. J.W. Brewer says:

    Took a long time for this to bubble to the front of my brain, but there’s e.g. “She is benediction / She is addicted to thee / She is the root connection /
    She is connecting with he.” (Dancing Barefoot, originally recorded 1979.) Other verses include a couple more “he”‘s and at least one “she” immediately following prepositions where you’d think him/her would be obligatory, but it may well be poetic license, and rhyming parallelism with repeated line-ending isntances of “thee” or “me” (which of course are the objective/oblique case and thus un-parallel with he/she for purposes other than rhyme). I would be surprised if Patti used he/she rather than him/her in that syntactic environment in ordinary non-poetic/shamanic speech.

  53. David Marjanović says:

    So my normal [s] is apico-dental, I think

    Possible. That would sound similar to a laminal one.

    But my /r/ is definitely uvular not velar: I can produce it with my mouth wide open

    Oh yes! I once amazed a bunch of Chinese colleagues that way! 🙂 (That was on a field trip through Pennsylvania.)
    Velar trills are quite difficult to make and haven’t been reported from any language.

    And I do know how to produce a uvular plosive

    I thought you speak languages that have one ([q] or thereabouts)? Wikipedia says Coast Tsimshian and Nisqa’a have such sounds and doesn’t tell about the other two Tsimshianic languages.

  54. marie-lucie says:

    They all have [q], both plain and glottalized, and [X].

  55. David Marjanović says:

    …Then I’m sure you do know how to produce a uvular plosive, because that’s what [q] is.

  56. marie-lucie says:

    You’re telling me!

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