they and them

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Apr 15 13:57:42 UTC 2005

At 11:06 PM -0400 4/14/05, RonButters at AOL.COM wrote:
>Could this be nothing more than a failure to place "they" and "them" in
>quotation marks? I.e., one plusible explanation is that "they and
>them are" means
>no more than just 'the words "they" and "them" refer to'. Compare "I is
>actually just the entity that inhabits this body at this particular
>time" or "He and
>she are actually you and me."


>It is interesting that the oblique case always comes second, though I suppose
>this could be explained as a matter of the unmarked form coming first (kings
>and queens, etc.)

Well, perhaps, but note also "Me, myself, and I".  Of course, in
their classic (1975) paper on the topic, Bill Cooper and Haj Ross did
call the overarching principle "Me First".


>In a message dated 4/14/05 7:08:30 PM, zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU writes:
>>  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
>>  them.
>>  -----
>>  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"?
>>  arnold

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