nomconjobjs: between you and me/I

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Mon Feb 22 17:09:39 UTC 2010

On Feb 22, 2010, at 7:45 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> Plus my wondering about the subjective in first position, since it
> seemed rare to me to hear a subjective pronoun in the *only* position
> after a preposition.

you've imported an assumption made by most usage writers (and non-
linguists) talking about case-marking in coordination, namely that the
marking of the conjuncts follows from the marking of non-coordinate
NPs.  this assumption is gratuitous.  (many people treat this
hypothesis about the way case-marking works as a matter of logical
necessity; things could not be otherwise.  but they are, in many
languages and varieties of languages.  how case-marking works in
coordination is an empirical question, the answer to be determined by
investigating the systems of different varieties.  Larry Horn alluded
to that fact in his posting here, and Geoff Pullum addressed it
briefly in the Language Log posting of his i asteriskeed in my list of
postings on nomconjobs.)

[i've been working for over a year on a posting that treats case-
marking in coordinate and non-coordinate NPs systematically, from the
ground up.  but it's a hard slog, working around the many different
syntactic frameworks in which these matters have been discussed.  it
looks like yet another posting that will take 40-80 hours to finish,

nominative case marking for non-coordinate NPs does occur, but for
otherwise standard speakers/writers only in a collection of special
cases.  some non-standard varieties, in some contexts, have nominative
case in non-coordinate NPs ("It don't hurt I, and it pleases she";
please don't write to say you reject this -- i *said* it was non-

>  That is, that the "imprinting" of
> "<preposition> <objective pronoun>" would reduce the frequency of
> "<prep> <subj pronoun> and <noun phrase>".  Arnold's
>> nominatives are more common as second conjunct than as first
>> conjunct,
>> though the frequency of nominatives as first conjunct isn't
>> negligible
> addresses that question.
> Arnold, is your data from speech, or writing?

both, though i've tried to separate the examples.  there are more
systematic collections in the material i cited, along with data from
speaker judgments, collected
by a technique ("magnitude estimation") designed to reduce some of the
problems in eliciting acceptability judgments.  see the Grano thesis,
cited by Larry Horn and me.

>  And does one use
> subjective/objective for English, or nominative/accusative?  (Or
> nominative/objective?)

this is a purely terminological question.  we could call the
morphological cases that i've called nominative and accusative here 1
and 2, or Tweedledum and Tweedledee, or whatever -- so long as we
distinguished the two, and also distinguished them from syntactic
functions like subject, direct object, and prepositional object.  my
actual preference is to use names that are abbreviations that are
suggestive but non-standard: Nom vs. Acc, SU vs. DO vs. PO.


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