Thursday, 18 December 2008

Also movies make grammar mistakes

I found this interesting article. This made me ask to myself if the language is changing for good or for bad. Soemtimes we think that the way they say it in the movies, songr or sitcoms is the best and is not all true.

Are Me and Him Ruining the Movies?
I must be getting old, because things I hear in the talkies -- oops, the movies -- are really starting to get my goat. Let's make an example out of two recent flicks: "High School Musical 3" and "Madagascar: Escape 2 [sic] Africa." An early scene in each contains the same hideous grammar error -- the use of me where I belongs. From "Madagascar": "You and me are different, son." From "High School Musical": "Me and my dad built this tree house."

It gives me the shrivels to hear this sort of dialogue. It's not English; it's Caveman (or "Cavemanglish," if you want to make a portmanteau out of it). Only two characters can get away with talking like that: Tarzan and Cookie Monster. Everyone else needs to know the difference between I and me. Actually, almost everyone else needs to know this. There are exceptions in high places, though it pains me to admit it. When Bill Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination in 1992, for example, he goofed twice, saying, "My mother was busy raising my brother and I," and "Give Al Gore and I a chance to bring America back." This is called "hypercorrection" -- he was avoiding using me to sound extra proper. It's proof, probably unnecessary, that you can be the leader of the free world even if you don't understand how to use pronouns.

What's more, you can probably also still get into the college of your dreams. I was very ready to dismiss "High School Musical 3" as wildly improbable not because of all the singing, dancing and cheek kissing, but because the main character, Troy Bolton, speaks Caveman. How could he possibly get into a school like Berkely? Then I talked to Marie Felde, director of media relations at UC-Berkeley. She set me straight. "If you used poor grammar but had something very special to bring to the student body, say you wrote an opera that was performed on a major stage, or invented a new tech tool that revolutionized communications -- that might work," she said. "High School Musical" isn't quite opera, but Zac Efron's character, Troy Bolton, did star in it, and his basketball team won the state championship, so I'm guessing this would impress the admissions committee, which looks for accomplishments like this when its members are making their decisions. So, fine. You can be president. You can go to Berkeley. Your life won't be ruined if you don't know the difference between I and me. But unless you're as cute as Cookie Monster or as loincloth-ready as Tarzan, you're going to bug people who know better. And there's no reason for that. There are just two little rules to remember when deciding between I, me and assorted other pronouns. Anyone can learn these.
Rule No. 1: I is the subject
Its official name is a nominative pronoun. All this really means is that it's standing in for your subject. So, use I when the pronoun you need is working as the subject of a clause or a sentence. I built this tree house. My dad and I built this tree house. This isn't hard to remember. If you find yourself getting confused when there are two subjects, drop one out. Everything should become clear. Even Troy Bolton probably wouldn't say, "Me built this tree house." Other pronouns can stand in for your subject, too. They are you, he and she, we, and they. So, you'd say, "He and Troy built the tree house," not "Him and Troy built the tree house."
Want More Martha?

Rule No. 2: Me is the object
Its fancy name is an objective pronoun. It means it's standing in for your object.

So, use me when your pronoun works as an object in the sentence or clause. A pronoun can be the object in two ways:

It can be the object of a verb. For example: The sushi (your subject) made (your verb) me (your object) sick. The movie gave Monica and me a fright.
It can be the object of a preposition. For example: She sent the letter to (a preposition) me.
Likewise, use you, him, her, us and them to stand in for your objects. There. That's it. Can you believe people get this wrong so often? And one last thing. That old tar pit -- it is I vs. it is me -- can be crossed off your list of things to worry about. Either one is fine, though the latter is best for informal contexts. In "The Second Tree from the Corner,"E:B white wrote a funny story he'd witnessed in a newsroom. Apparently a man had to identify his wife's body at the morgue. "My God, it's her!" the man exclaimed. The editor, earnest but emotionally tone deaf, changed it to "My God, it's she!" Now that's someone I'd like to go to the movies with, or, to put it in a way that would please the editor, someone with whom I'd like to go to the movies.
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