they and them

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Mon Apr 18 01:15:32 UTC 2005

On Apr 15, 2005, at 1:04 PM, I wrote:

> ... i'll ask Grano about the examples he found in his searches.

1.  his one example of "they and them" (from an AltaVista search) looks
pretty clearly like a use/mention case, once the context is supplied.

2.  except for one, his "NP and them" examples have an antecedent for
"them".  but the following looks like indefinite-extender "them" (and
in subject position!):

Baby, never ONCE. Never once did I think you went there willingly. I
don't want you to think that I blame you at all, because NONE of this
was your fault. God, I could have killed him, Danielle. If Billy and
them hadn't been there, I probably would have killed him. And now, to
see how this has turned you into a different person, what it has done
to us.

Grano found no antecedent for "them" in the preceding text.

3.  meanwhile, Grano came across some examples that are interesting on
other grounds -- "Pro and NP" coordinations that are irreversible for
semantic/pragmatic reasons.  these are noise in his data, since he's
looking at (among other things) order effects in case marking ("between
John and I/me" vs. "between I/me and John").  these are examples like
   it's just going to destroy me and everyone around me
   it was about me and the color of my skin

these are interpreted not just as 'X and Y (equally)' but as 'X (main
thing) and also Y (add-on)', usually with an explicit anaphor to X
inside Y, though this isn't necessary:
   it's just going to destroy me and all the other students

Geoff Pullum has pointed out that there are irreversible fixed
expressions of this type, in particular "you and yours" (similarly, "me
and mine").  note that for "me and mine", either you can't have it in
subject position at all, or it has to have "me":  "Me and mine are here
to help you", NOT "I and mine are here to help you".  (well, you can
always switch to a different construction, as in "I and my family are
here to help you" or "My family and I are here to help you".)

arnold (zwicky at

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