Me myself personally.

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Me myself personally.

Post by Bobinwales » Tue Feb 08, 2005 1:12 pm

There seems to be quite a fashion at the moment in the use of the word “myself”. The usage often appears awkward, and I have usually found that awkward generally means wrong.

I get letters reading, “if you have any queries, please contact Mr Jones or myself”. I would have thought it should be simply, “Mr Jones or me”.

There are also constant examples of the word’s use when “I” would be more appropriate.

Are these examples of the language changing, or were they always acceptable, and I was wrong to think otherwise?
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Me myself personally.

Post by Phil White » Tue Feb 08, 2005 2:20 pm

Bob,

There's one discussion under http://www.wordwizard.com/phpbb3/viewto ... rms=myself.

It struck me as being a little thin for a topic which bothers a lot of people, so here are a few ideas from me.

The only uses generally accepted by grammarians are:
- The genuine reflexive ("I hurt myself")
- Emphatic additions ("I myself do not know")

The other use you quote is generally regarded as wrong, although I can see a perfectly valid case for "please contact Mr Jones or myself". If you regard the emphatic addition "I myself do not know" as meaning something along the lines of "personally", a similar idea seems to apply in your example. If I received a letter with that phrase, I would assume that the writer was a manager and a superior to Mr. Jones and that the writer was inviting me to contact either the normal clerk or similar or the manager (the writer) personally. If the formulation is intended to convey the nuance of meaning I suggest, then avoiding "myself" would result in something like "... please contact Mr Jones. Of course, I would also be happy do deal with your query personally if you wish." This is becasue "... please contact Mr. Jones or me personally" is ambiguous.

My argument for the right to exist of the construction notwithstanding, many people would still regard that use, and certainly many of the other possible uses, as wrong. They are therefore probably best avoided in formal situations.

The most common other use is in constructions like "They came for a meal with Harry and myself." Uses replacing the nominative appear to me to be relatively rare. Partridge quotes one which you will hear, "... you and myself will arrange this..." and one that I find most peculiar: "herself and himself will soon be getting married."

Language changing? I seem to remember most of these uses from my childhood some forty years back and don't believe that they're particularly new.
Acceptable? Informally, they are used so often that it would be foolish to suggest that they're not acceptable. Formally? I suspect that the acceptance threshold for the example you quote is shifting slowly.
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Non sum felix lepus

Me myself personally.

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Feb 08, 2005 9:56 pm

While I have not researched my observation systematically, I have noticed that the non-standard use of 'myself' seems to be a particular feature of the English that is spoken in Ireland and possibly some of the Scottish islands. Examples might be as follows:

"Well now, if that isn't himself talking to her!" [Someone who has previously been the topic of conversation is being commented on by an onlooker.]

"Is that himself speaking?" [Someone whom the questioner views with some contempt is being directly addressed.]

"Isn't that himself speaking?" [Someone whom the questioner considers to be socially superior is posing a rhetorical question about them.]

It would be interesting to have some comments on my observations/interpretations from people who hail from those parts of the world.
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Me myself personally.

Post by Phil White » Tue Feb 08, 2005 11:07 pm

Oh, well done! I'd been racking my brains and those of a few colleagues to pin down where I'd heard that usage.

Somebody does appear to have researched it systematically:
In rural areas the reflexive version of pronouns is often used for emphasis or to refer indirectly to a particular person, etc., according to context:

"Was it all of ye or just yourself?"
"'Tis herself that's coming now." Is í féin atá ag teacht anois.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiberno-English
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Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Me myself personally.

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Sat Mar 12, 2005 2:28 pm

Bob, I think that your "awkward generally means wrong" is a useful generalisation. The trouble is, there can be conflicts between people/s with different preconditioning (I remember the "Should it be 'math' or 'maths'?" debate now in the archive), and also between conformity to accepted rules of grammar and what most people think sounds to be right usage.
I haven't made an accurate record, but I'm fairly sure that different British TV News anchorpersons have gone through seasons of
"So that's all for now from Isadora and me",
"So it's Good Night from Bertram and I",
to "So, from Quentin and myself, Good Night."
Most modern grammars seem to recommend that "It is I" be avoided, especially in spoken English - that seems to leave the once taboo "It's me". Modern uses of "myself" etc seem often to be unsatisfactory attempts to find an alternative that is neither traditionally wrong nor silly-sounding.
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