they and them

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Thu Apr 14 23:08:18 UTC 2005

my student Tommy Grano, investigating pronoun case in coordination, has
come across a fair number of examples of "they and them", as in the
following (which is about homosexuals):
I''ve heard lots of negative comments about the topic, and I think we
shoul relax. Why try to ruin someone elses day or life because of your
personal beliefs. Let them be happy and free, just as they probably
want you to be happy and free. And don''t use the word tolerance, they
have done nothing to require you to tolerate them. (They and them
actually are everybody else in the world, because you are just as
unique as everyone else.)

at first i was just baffled by such examples, but then i realized that
this was just the extension of the pattern "NP and them" 'NP and any
others of that sort' (as in "Kim and/'n' them") to the case where the
NP is the pronoun "they".

observation: it's always "NP and/'n' them", never NP and/'n' they", no
matter what the syntactic function of the coordination (subject, in the
example above).

further observation: there are cases of "they and them" functioning as
object -- for instance, of the P "for" in the following examples:
... THEY >are askeered! >o well >o hell >too bad for they and them >i
don't do whore and i do not do tit bar dances >they wish with all of
their might ... forum.cgi?noframes;read=43069

I'm just stuck with the stupidity and inadequencies of those who were
suppoed to be representing me and you but ripped us off for they and

this suggests that "they and them" is a fixed expression and could
appear in the speech/writing even of people who don't otherwise have
nominative coordinate objects, who wouldn't say "...ripped us off for
they and Kim".  if so, you wouldn't expect to have "them and them" used
this way as an object. these speculations are not easy to check by
googling, unfortunately.

query: anyone know of any study of this expression?

further query: i know there are studies of "XP and/'n' stuff/shit"
("hard liquor and stuff", "hot dogs 'n' shit", "got angry 'n' shit",
"all happy and stuff") -- though i can't at the moment lay my hands on
the references -- but are there any of "NP and/'n' them"?

still further query: is there a more or less standard, or even just
good, label for these indefinite extender phrases with "and"?


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