sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM
Fri Jun 9 18:18:13 UTC 2006
>> I wanted her to become an astrophysicist. 
>> I've always wanted me to become who I am today. 
>> Can't say much for the felicity of either of these ways of saying
>let's step back a bit here. the original example is not parallel to
>1 and 2 above. if the predicative in the sentence had been
> who(m) I've always wanted me to be 
>then we could, if we were so inclined, invoke the relevant rule of
>latin, which is that a predicate nominal agrees in case with its
>(notional) subject, which in this case is the accusative "me". that
>predicts "whom" for the fronted "who(m)". (if you're unhappy with
>this, hang on. i'll get to it in a little while.)
>but it's not 3 that's at issue. instead it's
> who(m) I've always wanted to be 
>in which the (notional) subject for the predicate nominal is also the
>subject of "(have) wanted", i.e. the nominative "I". that predicts
>"who" for the fronted "who(m)".
>now there are two problems. the first is that "who(m)" frequently
>doesn't work the same way as the other pronouns. the second is that
>the other pronouns don't follow the latin rule in this situation. to
>see the problem, build up from a simple finite example, like
> [I've always wanted to be Peter, and now] I *am* Peter.
>the latin rule predicts nominative case for a pronoun in the place of
>"Peter". but this is godawful:
> *[I've always wanted to be Peter, and now] I *am* he.
>it's got to be:
> [I've always wanted to be Peter, and now] I *am* him.
> [Q: Who are you today?] A: [pointing to Peter] I am Peter/him/
>this is one of several situations where case choice (in english) is
>pragmatically driven. the relevant factor in this particular
>situation is that some discourse referent (in this case, the person
>Peter) is being conceptualized from two different viewpoints --
>effectively, being split in two. when this happens, predicate
>nominals refer to something different from what their subject refers
>to, they don't share case with those subjects, and so they default to
>accusative. a different but related effect appears when you point to
>(the image of) yourself in a group photograph. even if you're a
>relentless "It is I" speaker, you can't say "That is I in the back
>row"; it has to be "That is me in the back row".
>in any case, the pragmatic effect carries over to "want" + marked
> I admire Peter enormously, so I've always wanted to be Peter/him/*he.
>all this would seem to predict "whom" in 4. but wait... "who(m)"
>really does work differently from the other pronouns (the first
>problem i mentioned above). as far as i know, "who(m)" doesn't show
>any case-agreement effects for anyone, only determination of case by
>syntactic function and position (with different speakers having
>somewhat different schemes of determination). things like 3 with
>"whom" are, i think, out for everybody, as is
> *Whom do you want me to be today?
>(despite the goodness of "You want me to be him today")
>that is, predicative "who(m)" is always "who", period.
>it is, in fact, more than a little misleading to call "who"
>nominative and "whom" accusative, using the same terminology as for
>the other pronouns. maybe something like "plain form" and "m form".
>arnold (zwicky at csli.stanford.edu)
This is fun. If I'd given myself time for second thoughts, I'd probably
not have sent my original post....but then we'd not have had this
While sample here is not something I'd be likely to have occasion to say:
" [I've always wanted to be Peter, and now] I *am* Peter.
the latin rule predicts nominative case for a pronoun in the place of
"Peter". but this is godawful:
*[I've always wanted to be Peter, and now] I *am* he.
it's got to be:
[I've always wanted to be Peter, and now] I *am* him".....
I do and always have said "This is she" when asked by a phone-caller for
(I'm usually mistaken for a man or boy, since my normal speaking note is
around E below middle C.) I would find it awkward to say "This is her."
Of course I would, OTOH, say "That's me" in the photo.
The who/whom snarl I see most often is in constructions like: "I doubt
that whomever is in charge here will....", where "whom" is actually the
governing pronoun of an indicative verb in a dependent clause, while the
whole dependent clause is the object of another verb that triggers the
impulse to get "whom" in there.
W stands for >:< War ____Waste___Wiretaps____Witchhunts >:<
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