nomconjobjs: some factors

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Mon Feb 22 05:12:38 UTC 2010

this thread started with things like "between he and his wife" (from
Joel Berson).  (the classic examples would be things like between my
wife and I", so some people were taken aback by the nominative object
as the first conjunct.)  Jon Lighter pointed out that examples like
the one Joel found were not uncommon (and i gave a few examples, of
many, from my files), but Jon added that they almost always had 3rd-
person pronouns.  that's right.  here's a quick summary of the facts
as i know them (these are *not* in MWDEU, by the way).

simplifying things, the factors we're looking at here are:
   (1) position of the nominative object: first conjunct or second;
   (2) person & number of the pronoun: 1sg, 3sg, 1pl, 3pl (2nd-person
pronouns show no formal reflexes of person and number).

plural pronouns are extremely rare in either position, though they do

nominatives are more common as second conjunct than as first conjunct,
though the frequency of nominatives as first conjunct isn't negligible.

as the second conjunct, the 1sg pronoun is much more common than the
3sg pronouns.  the reverse is true for nominatives as the first
conjunct: the 3sg pronouns are much more common than the 1sg pronoun.

to sum up: things are pretty much like the examples we started with:
the reasonably  frequent combinations are
   NP + 1sg
   3sg + NP
with the former more frequent than the latter.


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