Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Obama's "I"

Patricia T. O'Conner and Stewart Kellerman, in today's New York Times:

Since his election, the president has been roundly criticized by bloggers for using "I" instead of "me" in phrases like "a very personal decision for Michelle and I" or "the main disagreement with John and I" or "graciously invited Michelle and I."
Given the state of presidential English (aka "American") between 2001 and 2009, it seems a bit absurd to criticize the new president for a single pronoun problem. I too though would like to hear "me."

I've wondered: might Obama's "I" be intended to avert perceptions of error that might follow from the proper use of "me"? No, I don't really think so either. My guess is that the "I" is a matter of long-standing habit, which also explains why I still say "stove" for "oven."

comments: 5

Wings said...

Huh... I thought "and I" was the proper form, not "and me". Consider me corrected, as well.

Elaine Fine said...

But you never say "in the stove" or "on the oven." Think about it.

Michael Leddy said...

Wings, I'm glad you found this post useful. I'm curious as to whether there'll be an "and I" in tonight's address.

Elaine, if I thought about it, I wouldn't make the mistake. : )

The oven/stove thing is a running joke between Elaine and, uh, me.

Crritic! said...

This reminds me of the habit of Barry Humphries many years ago when he was doing the character then called Mrs Edna Everage, of declaring "Excuse I!" when entering a room.

It was, of course, ironically meant to signify her pretensions to sophistication.

Michael Leddy said...

That's very funny (and new to me). Thanks for sharing it, Sean.