Me, (Myself) and I

Over the last year or so, I’ve been noticing an explosion in the  misuse of the words “I” and “me’.    What I seem to be hearing mostly is what I refer to as an “over correction” which comes out in the form of an  incorrect replacing of “me” by “I”, as in “He wanted my wife and I to come over.”  It seems that “me” has gotten a bad name… as if  its incorrect usage might be seen as a telltale sign of coarseness.  So, I think the mindset is that  if there’s any indecision as to which one to use, its best to come down on the side of “I”.  This is no  big  deal to  me.  But what has become a big deal is my inability  to keep quiet when I hear this.  I find myself immediately correcting almost everyone–friends, co-workers, acquaintances and even  near-strangers.    Clearly, very obnoxious behavior.    And also very risky, since I’m not on the good side of enough people to chance jeopordizing  the friendships and relationships that  I do have.  

Whenever I find myself  making one of those corrections, I can’t help but hear my father’s voice doing the same thing to my brother, my sister or me…..(or is it “I”……whatever…) when we were children.  His admonitions coupled with the public school drumming by the Irish spinsters who were my grade school teachers left me with a (overly)heightened sensitivity to grammar issues.  For my part, I did a similar thing with my kids when they were young.  Hopefully, it has left no psychological scars.  (I believe they sometimes read this column so they could certainly weigh in on this.  God……. if they do,  I hope they don’t screw up their grammar).

Some of my friends seem to  have gotten used to this.  My friend boB likes to refer to me as the Department of Corrections.  I think hope this is said with affection.  I’m afraid to ask.  Others roll their eyes  But at least one friend, LB seems to welcome the chance to improve himself.  I try to explain some of the rules…as best I  can remember them, but ultimately the advice I give him  is that, “if it comes towards the end of the sentence,  probably “me”, rather than “I’ is the right choice.”  (Not exactly out of Strunk and White’s  Elements of Style but still…)

My girlfriend Erialc and I have an ongoing discussion/argument about what I think is a common “under correction” of the “I”, “me” thing.  She will sometimes say  that so and so   is “older (or younger) than me“.  She’s very smart in these matters and understands that a strict interpretation of the I/me rules calls for the use of “I” but  maintains that common usage now allows for either “me” or “I”.   Unwisely, I disagree and stick to my rigid principles which are the result of my upbringing.  (Now, as I think about,  I should be thrilled  just to be able to say that  anyone  is  OLDER than I am…or me).   You can imagine how much fun this argument is.

There’s much more to be said on this matter  but I have to leave off here.  I’m finally getting around to writing  a letter to David Sedaris about something that’s been on my mind for a while now.  I really like his writing and I loved the book but jeez….Me Talk Pretty One Day.  Come on David…

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12 Responses to “Me, (Myself) and I”

  1. charn Says:

    correction: my father NEVER need to correct me!

  2. David Says:

    maybe I should identify myself as Divad. Doesnt seem to make much difference. Just wanted to wish you a Happy New Year, and hopefully we wil talk again soon.

  3. David Says:

    also…you are becoming quite a writer. Sort of like the way you learned to play tennis.

  4. other jane Says:

    Nice, Neil. Very nice. But I myself noticed that you skirted the whole messy myself issue.

    • ironicman Says:

      it’s true jane… i avoided that like the plague. i really don’t know anything about “myself”. (in the etymological sense). thanks for the nice comment.

  5. bob Says:

    Upon reflection, it was said with affection– You are the “Dept. Of Corrections!”
    Though it’s easy to see why you would start an insurrection.

  6. richard weinstock Says:

    As for I, there is no one who I’d rather have teach me to be a better I than thee.
    You will always be my mentor so don’t ever stop.
    LB

  7. Roberta Berman Says:

    Happy New Year Your Uncle just had to look at you

  8. I’m………And I Approve This Message « Ironicman's Blog Says:

    […] If you’re a blog reader, you know that I’ve tackled this subject before.  (see: https://ironicman.wordpress.com/2009/09/18/me-myself-and-i-2)/) That posting  cost me quite a few friends and has made me  re-think my attitude re: being […]

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