"me neither" (1882)--("Nor me neither" is a blend)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Mon Jan 10 21:26:59 UTC 2005

On Mon, 10 Jan 2005 15:26:44 -0500, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>

>At 6:16 PM -0600 1/9/05, Cohen, Gerald Leonard wrote:
>>         Ben Zimmer wrote (Jan. 9, 2005):
>>         <snip>
>>>  (There are earlier cites for "Nor me neither.")
>>Ah, another blend: "Nor I" + "Me neither."
>I'm not convinced "Nor I" is involved.  "Nor me", without the
>postposed "(n)either" emphatic, would be more likely for many
>speakers (in particular "nor me neither" speakers) than "Nor I".
>Note, for example, that the positive stand-alone form "Me too" is a
>*lot* more frequent/likely than "I too", and we'd expect the
>negative-environment counterpart of "Me too" to be either "Me either"
>or "Me neither", depending on whether one opts for negative polarity
>or negative concord.

I agree with Larry on this one.  I see "nor me neither" as simply "nor me"
with "neither" added for emphasis.  OED3's def. 3a of "neither" gives many
cites for the negative-concord sense (e.g., "Nay that cannot bee so
neyther" from _Two Gentlemen of Verona_), though it notes that the
emphasis of an explicit negative is "non-standard in later use."  Def. 3c
implies that "me neither" is an elliptical form of the earlier "nor me
neither" ("me too" is not mentioned as an analogical influence, though
that seems likely).

Just to push "nor me neither" back a bit further (OED3 only gives an 1895
cite from Hardy's _Jude the Obscure_), here is the earliest of 16 cites
available on APS Online via Proquest:

1843 _Godey's Lady's Book_ 27 (Aug.) 53/2 "She shant teach me. She shant!"
"Nor me neither, I'd spit at her!"

This is in dialogue between children (who also use "ain't"), so it appears
that it was already understood as a non-standard usage.

--Ben Zimmer

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