Sunday, September 21, 2008

Open Thread

What's on your mind?

Have at it - anything goes. What's been eating at you - what have you noticed - where have you been - what have you seen?


Anonymous said...

Right now, I'm writing a review of Cleveland Poetry Scenes, wondering why this has to be an International Day of Peace in name only, and hoping more folks will come check out my video of the August Deep Cleveland Poetry Hour. Yesterday I went to the Tremont Arts & Culture festival - very cool. We saw and filmed Steve Goldberg reading poetry, and I hope to have that on my blog soon as well. The festival's still going on today in Lincoln Park, and I encoourage folks to check it out. Now I must get back to work.

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

Well, the latest thing on my mind is Marilyn Hacker's poem in the most recent New Yorker. It's a beautiful poem, cleverly written, nice images... I do like to see a clever sonnet in with the usual boring poetry in the New Yorker sometimes... but for the life of me I just can't figure out what the heck she's talking about.

michael salinger said...

This is my grammatical pet peeve - what's yours?

It drives me nutso when I hear folks say things like "My mother bought a whole refrigerator worth of groceries for Becky and I"

The psuedo propriety that they grasp at comes off more like fingernails on the blackboard.


In the old days when people studied traditional grammar, we could simply say, “The first person singular pronoun is ‘I’ when it’s a subject and ‘me’ when it’s an object,” but now few people know what that means. Let’s see if we can apply some common sense here. The misuse of “I” and “myself” for “me” is caused by nervousness about “me.” Educated people know that “Jim and me are goin’ down to slop the hogs,” is not elegant speech, not “correct.” It should be “Jim and I” because if I were slopping the hogs alone I would never say “Me is going. . . .” If you refer to yourself first, the same rule applies: It’s not “Me and Jim are going” but “I and Jim are going.”

So far so good. But the notion that there is something wrong with “me” leads people to overcorrect and avoid it where it is perfectly appropriate. People will say “The document had to be signed by both Susan and I” when the correct statement would be, “The document had to be signed by both Susan and me.” Trying even harder to avoid the lowly “me,” many people will substitute “myself,” as in “The suspect uttered epithets at Officer O’Leary and myself.”

“Myself” is no better than “I” as an object. “Myself” is not a sort of all-purpose intensive form of “me” or “I.” Use “myself” only when you have used “I” earlier in the same sentence: “I am not particularly fond of goat cheese myself.” “I kept half the loot for myself.” All this confusion can easily be avoided if you just remove the second party from the sentences where you feel tempted to use “myself” as an object or feel nervous about “me.” You wouldn’t say, “The IRS sent the refund check to I,” so you shouldn’t say “The IRS sent the refund check to my wife and I” either. And you shouldn’t say “to my wife and myself.” The only correct way to say this is, “The IRS sent the refund check to my wife and me.” Still sounds too casual? Get over it.

On a related point, those who continue to announce “It is I” have traditional grammatical correctness on their side, but they are vastly outnumbered by those who proudly boast “it’s me!” There’s not much that can be done about this now. Similarly, if a caller asks for Susan and Susan answers “This is she,” her somewhat antiquated correctness is likely to startle the questioner into confusion.

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

Yeah, I hate that too.

The problem is that back in the 19th century, grammarians pedantified the English language, and decided that the verb "be" requires the nominative case, so generations of children were drilled in saying "It is I" instead of "It is me." Then they (incorrectly) internalized that rule as always using "I" as the direct objective.

A cute ditty here:

...on the other hand, no less than Shakespeare wrote “All debts are cleared between you and I” (Antonio to Bassanio, in The Merchant of Venice.) But then, methinks he said a lot of stuff we don't say anymore.

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

...I should mention that you won't see the "cute ditty" I mentioned unless you click through to the comments on the link I gave above.

This link should show it comments and all, I think:

Theresa Göttl Brightman said...

re: grammar

My grammatical pet peeve is one that I've noticed becoming more and more frequent, not only in speech, but even in writing.

Using "there's" instead of "there're" or "there are".

Like when someone says, "There's cars coming," "There's people coming over," etc. I'm ashamed to say, I've even caught myself saying it on occasion because I've heard it so often. (Although, I do correct myself.)

Casey Rearick said...

after all these years, i'm still wonderin' how they cram all that gram!


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau