Thursday, 29 January 2015

What's wrong with 'me'?

The title of this piece isn't a bit of self-centred angst, but rather simple confusion over the way the word 'me' seems to be in the decline.

When I was young, if anything the tendency was to over-use me. Teachers would pull up a child for saying 'Sally and me went to the cinema last night.' And that was well and good. Because they also taught the simple rule to try the sentence with just the word referring to the speaker and see if it still worked. 'Would you say "Me went to the cinema," they asked?' Well, obviously not. So we knew it should be Sally and I.

Now, though, it seems that a lot of people, particularly the under-40s (which makes me wonder if teachers have stopped using that rule) just take the 'It's not good to use "me" here,' message and chop out the poor little word at every possible opportunity.

Sometimes it's the reverse of the problem above. So, the speaker might say 'This is really good news for Jim and I.' It seems that the phantom teacher in their head is not saying 'Would you say "This is really good news for I?"' And that's bad enough. But the real nightmare is the introduction of 'myself.'

I heard it on the radio this morning, which is what triggered this post. I can't remember the exact wording, but it was along the lines of 'This is not fair for myself.' I almost threw my breakfast at the radio. What kind of perverse reasoning makes someone so desperate to avoid saying 'me' that they come up with that travesty?

It's even more common in the 'and' form. So often you hear something like 'This new house will be ideal for Sophie and myself,' or 'It was only a problem for Jim and myself,' or 'As far as Jenna and myself are concerned, this is fine.' Why? No, really, why?

Of course language usage changes, and grumpy old people moaning about it is more funny than useful. But this is a change that has no rhyme nor reason. It is simply bizarre, and grates every time I hear it. I would like everyone to stop. Please.

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