Friday, June 10, 2016

Advice from a Life Coach: The Ballad of Me and I

It is not too late to prevent the murder of the subject pronoun at the hands of the object pronoun. To do this, we must look at the accomplice: the seemingly innocent word "and."

How many times have we struck the word "and" from our conversations? (And I apologize for putting it in quotation marks, since the phrase "the word" already provides a determination that we are talking about "and" as a word and not using it as a conjunction. I'm just trying to be as clear as possible. [But I do not apologize for using "and," or for that matter "but," to start a sentence. The Coachean Life Coach is not quite that unbending.]) How many times have we said "Pardon my French" when we have let the word "and" slip from our lips? How many movies have been rated R for using it even once over the space of two hours? Yes, little "and" is the perennial dewy-eyed ingenue, but its powers to kill language rank with "like" (I mean, she was like all la-la-la and I was all like girl you gotta—you get the picture) or the classic "you know." You know?

By the way, regarding that expression "Pardon my French," you have to love any throwaway line that permits you to be vulgar and to blame it on the French both at the same time. Usually those are separate activities.

Anyhow, here's the meat of the problem. Most English-speaking people correctly use "I" as an object pronoun, when I stands alone. (All right, when "I" stands alone, since I know that last sentence was physically painful despite its correctness.) However, every vestige of education aimed at those English speakers immediately evaporates when they are not alone. "Joe and me went to the burlesque show." "Him and me were Siamese twins before the operation." Or even worse, "Me and him lived on grubs for the first eleven years on the island." Typing these sentences hurt, but not as much as listening to them. These same people would not say, "He gave it to I," or, for that matter, "Him gave it to I," but at the same time, they will say, "Our naked-yoga instructor was not happy that the cow face pose was not in the repertoire of Morty and I."

In all of these examples, note the lurking of the insidious little "and."

It has been suggested that this language failure is incurable, and that may be so. Nevertheless, if you suffer every time you hear it, or worse, occasionally commit the sin yourself, there is perhaps one cure: Bizarro.

Bizarro is probably the one* universally recognized character in literature (so to speak) who always objectifies his subject pronouns. So the cure to this, offered here, is that, whenever you do it yourself, picture yourself as Bizarro You. Say to yourself, "Me talk funny." And if someone uses this misconstruction within your hearing, and you are in a position to do so, refer to them similarly. "Oh, you're Bizarro Trump. You talk funny." (Okay, the idea of Bizarro Trump is either too bizarre or too Trumpish to make a good example, but we'll have to live with it.) The point is, without the "and, "no one would do this, and short of going through everything I've written here to explain it, simply pointing out that you or the perpetrator is talking like Bizarro will sum it up quickly and efficiently.

Ya get me? I'm happy to hear it. Or: Ya get I? Me happy to hear it. 

Mostly, by the way, it is teenagers who talk like this. Some might suggest that they will grow out of it, but that may be wishful thinking. Them is, like, the future. 

* Yeah, I know. You're thinking David Sedaris and/or Tonto also have used this construction, and maybe others. The Coachean Life Coach never claimed to be perfect, just almost perfect. Which is better than you, which is why you're reading this in the first place, and I'm not reading your life-coaching blog. Jeesh!



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