"early" ex. of initial "myself"

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Thu May 3 00:41:43 UTC 2007

On May 2, 2007, at 4:23 PM, Jon Lighter wrote:

> OED has sentence-initial emphatic _myself_ from before 1375, but
> all its examples include a stated "I" somewhere in the clause.
> Here's one without :
>   1909 in William Elsey Connelly _Quantrill and the Border Wars_
> (Cedar Rapids, Ia.: Torch Press, 1910) 362: The guerrillas sacked
> Lawrence just before sunrise....Myself and family were yet in bed
> and asleep.

you can google up plenty of modern examples of this sort (with
"myself" as the first conjunct in a coordinate subject).  the writer/
speaker is foregrounded in the narrative, and the second conjunct
denotes some set of others in relation to the writer/speaker.  and
only occasionally is there an "I" in the clause that follows.

Myself and many other scientists in the area are alarmed that...
Myself and all the other hosts are...
Myself and my family are able to handle the hazards...

Myself and the other female candidates were very optimistic about
being able to go all the way through to the actual elections.

there are also plenty of examples with "myself" as the second
conjunct in a subject.  also plenty of object examples (with both
orders of conjuncts).

for non-coordinate NPs, there's an asymmetry: a fair number of
examples of object "myself" (especially in things like "a person like
myself"), none of subject "myself" (*"Myself can solve the
problem").  my idea about this asymmetry relates "myself" to "me":
"myself" is a kind of emphatic counterpart to "me", so it can occur
where "me" can (including the non-standard coordinate subjects with
"me", like "Me and my family are..."), and it can't occur where "me"
can't (*"Me can solve the problem").  that is, "me" and "myself" are
both ACC pronouns (contrasting with NOM "I"), differing in some
discoursy property, and ACC pronouns cannot serve as the complete
subject of a finite clause.


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