Follow-up to flteach discussion of “It’s me”

From 1965, a major linguist, H. A. Gleason, wrote:
“The schools have struggled valiantly to make the standard pattern universal, but with various degrees of success. Most American speakers follow the school prescriptions in at least some situations, but few conform in every instance. It’s me is, perhaps, the most widespread of the departures from the proclaimed norms, so widespread that It’s I impresses many as prim or pedantic. However, there are differences from one person t nother and from one situation to another in the actual compromises that are followed.”
– p. 382

Quite balanced and written before the influence of the Commie-led hippies infected academe with its sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll mentality.

Then there is The Grammar Book for ESL teachers by the well-known linguists, Marianne Celce-Murcia and Diane Larsen-Freeman. With no nod to the history of usage, they write:
“In full sentences with the copula BE, personal pronouns used to take the subject form in formal English even in verb-phrase position.
It is I. This is she.
This usage is now changing even in formal English, and in informal English, the object form of the pronoun is definiteyly preferred:
It’s me.
This is her. (more likely in a sentence such as: That’s her.)

The desire to use formal English and be “correct” has led some native speakers to use I even as a conjoined direct object or a conjoined object of a preposition.
?This concerns only you and I.
?The article was written by Nancy and I.
?Between you and I, he’s a fool.

These forms may soon become colloquially acceptable. They are occurring with ever-increasing frequency.”

I used to think this, too, but the variance between the subject form and the oblique form in such phrases and “between you and I/me” has been the state for a very long time, going back to Shakespeare and before.

And finally, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, edited by the indefatigable David Crystal, says quite a bit, and I’ll throw in the “me and Billy” thing for Nikki.

(bottom of p. 203)
“Goodness Gracious! :
The objective case has long been a focus of prescriptive discontent….
In certain contexts it is used where the Latin-influenced grammatical tradition recommends the subjective:

Who’s there? It’s me.
She’s as tall as him.
Ted and me went by bus.

These usages attract varying degrees of criticism in a formal setting. Me as a single-word reply is now used by almost everyone, and attracts little comment ….The X and me type of construction, however, is often criticized, especially when speakers reverse the normal order of politeness, and put the pronoun first: Me and Ted went by bus.
Ironically, as a result of the long-standing criticsm of me and other objective forms, there is now a widespread sensitivity about their use, and this has led people to avoid them, even in parts of the clause where their use would be grammatically correct.

Between you and I…
He asked Mike and I to do it.”

Note that Crystal doesn’t say there is anything “wrong” with using the subjective case, I or he, just that it is not part of the the Latin-influenced tradition.

There are two points I want to make in this entry:
#1. We must be cautious in criticizing our students’ speech since they grow up in a speech community and we are indirectly criticizing the members of that community, thus arousing resentment.
#2. To those raised in speech communities where these usages labeled formal or traditional are seldom heard, we mark ourselves as distant and foreign, a burden we already face when we try to convince students that history and math are important or that learning a fl is a good idea. Speaking as/like our students speak leaves plenty of room for standard grammar and high register vocabulary; by avoiding truly strange-sounding forms like “This is she”, we let our students know we are part of their community and what we recommend is part of their lives.

2/28 addendum
Think about a person wanting to contrast himself with someone else. Does he say:
He is he and I am I or he’s him and I’m me?

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