NPR Speak and pronouns

Millie Webb millie-webb at CHARTER.NET
Tue Jul 16 17:56:10 UTC 2002

I had noticed this deletion of that/to many times before.  I assumed it only
bothered me (I have no one in my immediate circles who actually will discuss
such things with me), and no one else.

My assumption is that it somehow "sounds more formal", or to the speaker's
mind, more "BBC-like" that way (though I do not know how a typical BBC
broadcaster would say it).  Since it works in some cases, and seems to sound
more formal ("The professor agreed [implied COMMA here] the application of
the proper phrasing was key in delineation of the underlying meaning"), I
think people now tend to overuse it.  Especially hyper-corrective
copywriters for "respected broadcasters".

Now, what bugs me much much more is the misuse of the subject-pronoun for
the object-pronoun in "as for my husband and I, we do not allow our children
to bike without helmets".  That drives me crazy, and I swear I had never
heard it (I grew up in Minnesota) until I was in college.  Now, I hear it
all the time, see it in popular print (in newspaper articles, Newsweek,
everywhere!), and even come across it in advertising, educational seminar
pamphlets, or sermons from highly educated clergy (constantly!).

I always tell anyone who will put up with me pointing it out to say it with
just one person or one pronoun, and see which sounds better.  You wouldn't
say "as for I", or "as for we", would you?  So, don't do it when combining
pronouns or names either!  I am not generally a prescriptivist person, but I
have to admit this one really bugs me.  Mainly because I think it is
hypercorrection from teachers screaming at us not to say "my brother and me"
in the subject position, and no one knows the difference between subject and
object, so they use it all the time.  It's like the rule now is:  When
combining a noun and the first-person pronoun, always use "I", and never

So, I got that off my chest, and feel much better now.  Glad I finally found
this listserv.  It is a great way to get my language-related "fixes" without
bugging everyone in my real life.  Glad to see some people I know on here
too (though I don't know if they'll recognize me anymore...).

millie-webb at

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