I Is Alright, Jack

David Miliband is a former British Foreign Secretary and, as it happens, the brother of the Leader of the Labour Party. Yesterday I heard him say on BBC radio ‘. . . invite Michael Howard and I . . .’ This is a construction which gets the harrumphers going. They claim that when the first person personal pronoun is in object position it has to be me, not I. That is true when the pronoun occurs on its own, but it does not follow that it must behave the same way when it is coordinated. As Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey Pullum, the authors of ‘The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language’ say, ‘The argument from analogy is illegitimate.’

Few, I suspect, would care to argue that David Miliband was not a speaker of Standard English. He was born into a middle class, if left-wing, family, and, as a graduate of the University of Oxford and of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, can, by any measure, be considered well educated. His use of this construction is clear evidence of Huddleston and Pullum’s claim that it ‘is used by many highly educated people with social prestige in the community; it should be regarded as a variant Standard English form.’

3 responses to “I Is Alright, Jack

  1. Pingback: Standard or Non? Answers and Comments | Caxton

  2. “His use of this construction is clear evidence of Huddleston and Pullum’s claim that it ‘is used by many highly educated people with social prestige in the community; it should be regarded as a variant Standard English form.’”

    …no matter how much it grates on the ears! Thanks to your, blog, however, I feel I’m becoming less of a “grammar nazi”, a curious effect of becoming more informed about it. Thanks! I have my own foibles to overcome, among which is a love of ending most sentences with exclamation marks.

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  3. That’s good to know. You might like to have a look at one or two of the books under References in the Language Resources menu, as well as some of other language blogs in the Links menu.

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