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  1. #1
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    On another thread, in a discussion of pronoun usage, a passage from the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language was referred to.

    Here it is in full:
    ___________

    Another kind of illegitimate argument is based on analogy between one area of grammar and another. Consider yet another construction where there is variation between nominative and accusative forms of pronouns:

    [3] a. They invited me to lunch.
    [3] b. %They invited my partner and I to lunch.

    The ‘%’ symbol is again used to mark the B example as typically used by some
    speakers of Standard English but not others, though this time it is not a matter of regional variation. The status of the construction in B differs from that of It’s me, which is undisputedly normal in informal use, and from that of !Me and Kim saw her leave, which is unquestionably non-standard.

    What is different is that examples like B are regularly used by a significant
    proportion of speakers of Standard English, and not generally thought by
    ordinary speakers to be non-standard; they pass unnoticed in broadcast
    speech all the time.

    Prescriptivists, however, condemn the use illustrated by 3b, insisting
    that the ‘correct’ form is They invited my partner and me to lunch.
    And here again they seek to justify their claim that 3b is ungrammatical
    by an implicit analogy, this time with other situations found in English, such
    as the example seen in A. In A the pronoun functions by itself as direct
    object of the verb and invariably appears in accusative case. What is
    different in B is that the direct object of the verb has the form of a
    coordination, not a single pronoun. Prescriptivists commonly take it for
    granted that this difference is irrelevant to case assignment. They argue
    that because we have an accusative in A we should also have an
    accusative in B, so the nominative I is ungrammatical.

    But why should we simply assume that the grammatical rules for case
    assignment cannot differentiate between a coordinated and a non-coordinated pronoun? As it happens, there is another place in English grammar where the rules are sensitive to this distinction – for virtually all speakers, not just some of them:

    4 a. I don’t know if you’re eligible.
    4 b. I don’t know if she and you’re eligible.

    The sequence you are can be reduced to you’re in A, where
    you is subject, but not in B, where the subject has the form of a
    coordination of pronouns.

    This shows us not only that a rule of English could apply differently to
    pronouns and coordinated pronouns, but that one rule actually does. If that
    is so, then a rule could likewise distinguish between 3a and 3b. The
    argument from analogy is illegitimate. Whether 3b is treated as correct
    Standard English or not (a matter that we take up in Ch. 5, §16.2.2), it
    cannot be successfully argued to be incorrect simply by virtue of the
    analogy with 3a.

    ________


    This passage is curious for three reasons:

    1. It implies that the rule in operation in 4b is similar to the rule in operation in 3b; whereas in fact the "rule" in 4b relates to contraction in coordinated pronouns, not case in coordinated pronouns.

    (In passing, I would say that the CGEL's assertions about contraction in 4b are untrue: a speaker of Standard English would also say I don't know if she and you'r' eligible, where 'r' is a schwa.)

    2. It argues that since we don't apply the rule in 4a to 4b, we don't need to apply the rule in 3a to 3b.

    This is an "argument based on analogy between one area of grammar and another" (case in coordinated object pronouns vs contraction in coordinated pronouns).

    However, the CGEL has already described argument by analogy as "illegitimate", and indeed repeats the assertion – "The argument from analogy is illegitimate" – immediately after arguing from analogy.

    3. It describes "They invited my partner and I to lunch" as "used by some speakers of Standard English, yet "Me and Kim saw her leave" as "unquestionably non-standard".

    This is not true: in BrE, at least, people who say e.g. "she wanted to speak to John and I" will also say "Me and John did such and such". (Though they will probably write neither.)

    Moreover, the use of the structure "to X and I" is used only by a certain kind of speaker; whereas the "me and X did Y" structure is used by all kinds of speaker.

    There is therefore no reason, in the CGEL's own terms, to say that one is "standard" and one "non-standard".

    ___

    (My intention here is to comment on the validity of the CGEL's logic, by the way, not to deal with the respective merits of "between you and I"/"between you and me", etc.)

    MrP

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    I would also add that, for 4b, "I don't know if she and you are eligible" sounds rather unnatural. The use of the personal pronouns implies that the third person's identity has already been established in the conversation; in the vast majority of cases, people would be more likely to say, "I don't know if you two are eligible."

    "She and you are..." is probably more frequently met in writing rather than speech, and since until relatively recently contractions were not used, or at least discouraged, in written English, that might account for the relative infrequency of the contraction in this case.

    "She and I are..." is a more common construction here, and it is true that the plural verb is used because it is a multiple subject. That's a more persuasive argument in favour of treating coordinated pronouns differently, but is still irrelevant to the rest of the argument because a) it is talking about number, not case; and b) in this sentence, the pronouns are subjects, but the main argument is about object pronouns. But even so: although you will almost certainly never see it written, people do pronounce it as "she and I're..."

    I also find it intriguing that the CGEL talks about "nominative" and "accusative". Descriptivists (and since the CGEL distances itself from prescriptivists, it obviously sees itself as a descriptivist authority), and even many prescriptivists, avoid this terminology, as it makes little sense in English. Although the authors state that the book departs from traditional grammar where appropriate, sometimes radically, the use of this terminology harks back to the 18th and 19th centuries, when grammarians sought to describe English in terms of Latin and Greek.

  3. #3
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is online now VIP Member
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic View Post
    On another thread, in a discussion of pronoun usage, a passage from the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language was referred to.

    Here it is in full:
    ___________

    Another kind of illegitimate argument is based on analogy between one area of grammar and another. Consider yet another construction where there is variation between nominative and accusative forms of pronouns:


    [3] a. They invited me to lunch.

    [3] b. %They invited my partner and I to lunch.


    The ‘%’ symbol is again used to mark the B example as typically used by some

    speakers of Standard English but not others, though this time it is not a matter of regional variation. The status of the construction in B differs from that of It’s me, which is undisputedly normal in informal use, and from that of !Me and Kim saw her leave, which is unquestionably non-standard.


    What is different is that examples like B are regularly used by a significant

    proportion of speakers of Standard English, and not generally thought by

    ordinary speakers to be non-standard; they pass unnoticed in broadcast

    speech all the time.


    Prescriptivists, however, condemn the use illustrated by 3b, insisting

    that the ‘correct’ form is They invited my partner and me to lunch.

    And here again they seek to justify their claim that 3b is ungrammatical

    by an implicit analogy, this time with other situations found in English, such

    as the example seen in A. In A the pronoun functions by itself as direct

    object of the verb and invariably appears in accusative case. What is

    different in B is that the direct object of the verb has the form of a

    coordination, not a single pronoun. Prescriptivists commonly take it for

    granted that this difference is irrelevant to case assignment. They argue

    that because we have an accusative in A we should also have an

    accusative in B, so the nominative I is ungrammatical.


    But why should we simply assume that the grammatical rules for case

    assignment cannot differentiate between a coordinated and a non-coordinated pronoun? As it happens, there is another place in English grammar where the rules are sensitive to this distinction – for virtually all speakers, not just some of them:


    4 a. I don’t know if you’re eligible.

    4 b. I don’t know if she and you’re eligible.


    The sequence you are can be reduced to you’re in A, where

    you is subject, but not in B, where the subject has the form of a

    coordination of pronouns.


    This shows us not only that a rule of English could apply differently to

    pronouns and coordinated pronouns, but that one rule actually does. If that

    is so, then a rule could likewise distinguish between 3a and 3b. The

    argument from analogy is illegitimate. Whether 3b is treated as correct

    Standard English or not (a matter that we take up in Ch. 5, §16.2.2), it

    cannot be successfully argued to be incorrect simply by virtue of the

    analogy with 3a.
    ________


    This passage is curious for three reasons:

    1. It implies that the rule in operation in 4b is similar to the rule in operation in 3b; whereas in fact the "rule" in 4b relates to contraction in coordinated pronouns, not case in coordinated pronouns.

    (In passing, I would say that the CGEL's assertions about contraction in 4b are untrue: a speaker of Standard English would also say I don't know if she and you'r' eligible, where 'r' is a schwa.)

    2. It argues that since we don't apply the rule in 4a to 4b, we don't need to apply the rule in 3a to 3b.

    This is an "argument based on analogy between one area of grammar and another" (case in coordinated object pronouns vs contraction in coordinated pronouns).

    However, the CGEL has already described argument by analogy as "illegitimate", and indeed repeats the assertion – "The argument from analogy is illegitimate" – immediately after arguing from analogy.

    3. It describes "They invited my partner and I to lunch" as "used by some speakers of Standard English, yet "Me and Kim saw her leave" as "unquestionably non-standard".

    This is not true: in BrE, at least, people who say e.g. "she wanted to speak to John and I" will also say "Me and John did such and such". (Though they will probably write neither.)

    Moreover, the use of the structure "to X and I" is used only by a certain kind of speaker; whereas the "me and X did Y" structure is used by all kinds of speaker.

    There is therefore no reason, in the CGEL's own terms, to say that one is "standard" and one "non-standard".

    ___

    (My intention here is to comment on the validity of the CGEL's logic, by the way, not to deal with the respective merits of "between you and I"/"between you and me", etc.)

    MrP
    I agree with your logic. It appears that Cambridge is going out of its way to support the unsupportable. The objection to "between you and I" has nothing to do with analogy; it has everything to do with the case of pronouns used as prepositional objects.

  4. #4
    alienvoord is offline Member
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    I think they're on the right track. Coordinated pronouns do behave differently. Their argument does need work, though.

    I'm curious about something you wrote, MrPedantic

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic View Post
    Moreover, the use of the structure "to X and I" is used only by a certain kind of speaker; whereas the "me and X did Y" structure is used by all kinds of speaker.
    How do you know?

  5. #5
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Am I missing something, or are they getting into a logical twist here?
    This shows us not only that a rule of English could apply differently to
    pronouns and coordinated pronouns, but that one rule actually does. If that
    is so, then a rule could likewise distinguish between 3a and 3b. The
    argument from analogy is illegitimate. Whether 3b is treated as correct
    Standard English or not (a matter that we take up in Ch. 5, §16.2.2), it
    cannot be successfully argued to be incorrect simply by virtue of the
    analogy with 3a.
    Are they not making an analogy between the non-contraction rule and the possible use of a subject pronoun? If so, then they are simply replacing one 'illegitmate argument' with another. They haven't demonstrated that such a rule exists, merely that it could, shown in their hedged language. They have a point that many speakers do use 'invited Jane and I', but I see no rule shown.

  6. #6
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Am I missing something, or are they getting into a logical twist here?

    Are they not making an analogy between the non-contraction rule and the possible use of a subject pronoun? If so, then they are simply replacing one 'illegitmate argument' with another. They haven't demonstrated that such a rule exists, merely that it could, shown in their hedged language. They have a point that many speakers do use 'invited Jane and I', but I see no rule shown.
    Yes; they've "proved" that you can't compare apples with oranges by comparing apples with carrots. (Or, strictly speaking, with a vegetable that doesn't even exist.)

    MrP

  7. #7
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Hello Alienvoord, welcome to Using English!

    Quote Originally Posted by alienvoord View Post
    How do you know?
    From observation...

    1. Me and John did such and such.
    2. Such and such happened to John and I.
    3. Such and such happened to John and me.

    In BrE, the structure in #1 is used, not by everyone, but by people from every walk of life and from every social background.

    The structure in #2 however is used by people who imagine it's somehow more correct than the structure in #3.

    ___

    A while ago, I read a paper about the use of neuroimaging to assess the responses of L1 and L2 speakers to grammatical errors in the target language. Predictably, the responses were quite different.

    It would be quite interesting to use the same process to examine the responses of L1 speakers who favour the #2 structure to sentences of type #3.

    We could then assess whether their preference for #2 was due to affectation or intuition.

    MrP
    Last edited by MrPedantic; 10-Nov-2006 at 22:58.

  8. #8
    alienvoord is offline Member
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic View Post
    The structure in #2 however is used by people who imagine it's somehow more correct than the structure in #3.
    How can you say that for sure?

    According to Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage, a hypothesis similar to CG's is advanced by Chomksy in Barriers in 1986. He argues that "between" can assign case only to the whole phrase and not to the constituents within it. This means that the items in the co-ordinated phrase are free to take subject or object case, or to be reflexives.

    If I ever read Barriers I've forgotten it, so I can't say any more than that.
    Last edited by alienvoord; 14-Dec-2006 at 04:40.

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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by alienvoord View Post
    How can you say that for sure?
    Because they would not use that structure if they thought it was incorrect.

    According to Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage, a hypothesis similar to CG's is advanced by Chomksy in Barriers in 1986. He argues that "between" can assign case only to the whole phrase and not to the constituents within it. This means that the items in the co-ordinated phrase are free to take subject or object case, or to be reflexives.
    It strikes me that this rule is a retroactive rule invented to excuse poor teaching. The chronological order of events would be thus:

    1. "between" assigns case to all constituents of a coordinated object.
    2. native speakers use objective pronouns where prescriptive rules demand subjective pronouns.
    3. teachers attempt to correct speakers.
    4. speakers overextend the prescriptive rule taught in step 3 and apply it to pronouns which should properly remain objective: they do this on the assumption that if "Mary and I" is more correct than "Mary and me" in one situation, it must therefore be correct in every other case.
    5. Chomsky formulates an ad hoc rule which in fact was never followed by anyone, whether they consciously followed prescriptive rules or spoke naturally, until badly taught rules started to become misapplied.

  10. #10
    alienvoord is offline Member
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    Because they would not use that structure if they thought it was incorrect.
    MrPendantic said that people use it because they think it's more correct. We don't know that for sure; they might use it because it's normal usage for them.

    It strikes me that this rule is a retroactive rule invented to excuse poor teaching. The chronological order of events would be thus:

    1. "between" assigns case to all constituents of a coordinated object.
    2. native speakers use objective pronouns where prescriptive rules demand subjective pronouns.
    3. teachers attempt to correct speakers.
    4. speakers overextend the prescriptive rule taught in step 3 and apply it to pronouns which should properly remain objective: they do this on the assumption that if "Mary and I" is more correct than "Mary and me" in one situation, it must therefore be correct in every other case.
    5. Chomsky formulates an ad hoc rule which in fact was never followed by anyone, whether they consciously followed prescriptive rules or spoke naturally, until badly taught rules started to become misapplied.
    This timeline only makes sense if poor teaching dates from the 1600s, when "between you and I" is first attested. And the teaching of English grammar started in the 1700s.

    Anyway, the fact is that it's part of the language. Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage has many examples of this structure by English writers in English writing.

    Co-ordinated pronouns behave differently than single pronouns. This sentence sounds completely wrong to me:

    She gave the books to I.

    But this sentence does not sound completely wrong to me:

    She gave the books to you and I.

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