[Ads-l] Baby Me Is Freaking Out

Tue Dec 31 17:05:37 UTC 2019

In an email about my past expectations about the future, I wrote "Ten-year-old me thought that space exploration would have made great strides, with colonies on the Moon and missions to Mars.  Twenty-year-old me didn't think that."

That would seem to be a rather obvious case of subject-verb disagreement, but it took me a moment to realize this.  Then I noted that it would obviously be impossible to write "Ten-year-old I . . . ."  Is my only option to write "When I was ten, I . . . ."  That's not what I want to say.  I left it as it was.

I've seen this construction before, in a webcomic, the lamented Bad Machinery, http://scarygoround.com/badmachinery/?date=20130731, where a 14-year-old girl described her own imagined reaction to the present:  "Baby me is freaking out.  The future is insane!!!"  This did not seem wrong to me when I read it.

Should I think of this construction as modifier-me (e.g., "ten-year-old-me")?  What's going on here?  Or is nothing going on and I should just learn to live with "When I was ten, I . . . ."?

John Baker

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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