Christina’s Mishap

Christina Aguilera and her husband, music executive Jordan Bratman, welcomed a baby boy late last night and named him Max Liron Bratman.

In a move markedly different from how she revealed her pregnancy, they announced it merely hours after the birth.

After her rep announced it to the major magazines, Christina made an announcement herself on her official Web site.

The message:

“Dear fans,

“Today is a very joyful and special day for Jordan and I as we welcome our first son into this world.”

I stopped reading right there.

One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to grammar is when people say “and I” instead of “and me,” thinking it makes them sound smarter or more correct. In fact, plenty of people shun “and me” altogether.

Not a smart move.

The easiest way to avoid that is to drop all extraneous words from the sentence to see if it makes sense. For example, Christina could have said, “Today is a very joyful and special day for I,” and realized that “and me” would have been the better choice.

That being said, I’m glad Christina has a healthy baby, and I hope he got his mom’s voice and his dad’s fashion sense.

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9 responses to “Christina’s Mishap

  1. Oh, yes! The misuse of “me,” “I,” and “myself” drives me NUTS. Especially the use of “myself” in the proper place of “me” or “I” …

    “John and myself will go to the store.” (Should be “John and I”.)

    “Please direct any questions to Mary or myself.” (“… to Mary or me.”)

    I see this kind of thing all the time at work and it’s giving me gray hair!!

  2. Oh, and look what I just found on Perez Hilton:

    #213 – naysayer says

    awesome grammar . . . obviously uneducated

    #218 – congrats says

    Re: naysayer – fyi, her grammar isn’t that bad, and keep in mind, she probably didn’t write it either. btw, ‘…Jordon and I …’ is proper grammar.
    sheesh!
    congrats Christina! u have proven time again that u are a true tralent!

  3. It’s becoming more and more common, it seems, to use the nominative case in all instances of a coordinate pronoun, even if the total noun phrase is in the accusative position.

    The strategy of testing a pronoun coordination by mentally de-coordinating it is an old standard. But I’ve never seen evidence that people who use “X and I” coordinations are actually using “I” as an object on its own. So it should really be discussed and analyzed as a separate construction.

    This usage has been discussed, on occasion, by the (professional) linguists over at Language Log.

    It may also deserve comparison to other fixed constructions which appear to break grammatical conventions:

    What’s going on with the statement, “not I,” as used in the traditional phrasing of The Little Red Hen story?

    Or “this is (s)he” to answer the telephone?

    And how about using “I” for rhyme (and possibly other pragmatic purposes) in poetry/song? For example, “Let thou and I the battle try, and let our men aside,” a line from The Ballad of Chevy Chase, or “All debts are cleared between you and I” from The Merchant of Venice.

    I can’t claim to know precisely what is going on in every case (no pun intended), but informed and sensible discussion seems called for. I think knee-jerk derision and grammatical self-righteousness doesn’t add anything constructive to the discussion. Language use is pragmatic and not arbitrary (even if the underlying logic can be hard to extract). There is simply more to the issue than “she said X, how dumb, aren’t we glad we know better.”

    An amusing comparison occurred to me. Think of filesharing–this blog is rather like the RIAA of grammar, and by-the-book prescriptivism is the outdated copyright law. That’s comparison may anger some, but it’s probably not entirely unapt.

    I enjoy your site much of the time, but more thoughtful discussion and less simplistic finger-pointing would be welcome.

  4. I agree. I’d like to have some more discussion.

    “This is she” is something that I’ve been wanting to discuss for quite some time now.

  5. First of all, bravo on the move to WordPress. It’s a much more reader-friendly site than is Blogger.

    Secondly, to throw my two cents in, I don’t think the use of “for X and I” is a result of people trying to sound smart; I think it’s because so often in their youth, these people were corrected for using “me” incorrectly instead of “I” and now it sticks universally in their grammar choices.

    That’s why I usually have the following conversation:

    Grammar Mistaker: I’m going to get a hundred dollars at the bank for Paul and I.

    Jeff: “…for Paul and me.”

    Mistaker: No, you’re not getting any of the money.

    Jeff: No, it’s actually…nevermind.

  6. I’m happy they have a healthy baby, but this really does make me nuts. I learned the trick to drop the extraneous wording back in elementary school. Christina was busy performing on The Mickey Mouse Club during that period of her life, it’s a wonder she’s able to coherently write this much!

  7. You know how to press my buttons at the moment, Kate.

  8. It’s not due solely to hypercorrection. We find “X and I” in object position since the 1600s, before grammar was taught in school. Conjoined pronouns behave differently that singular pronouns in how they are assigned case.

    According to the thesis below, since subject-position “X and I” is more frequent than object-position “s/he and X”, the former is more likely to be extended into object position. Furthermore, “X and I” is a prestige form, and so is more accepted in object position than “me and X” is accepted in subject position.

    http://www-csli.stanford.edu/~zwicky/Grano.finalthesis.pdf

  9. Jeff, that’s an insightful point of yours:

    “I don’t think the use of “for X and I” is a result of people trying to sound smart; I think it’s because so often in their youth, these people were corrected for using “me” incorrectly instead of “I” and now it sticks universally in their grammar choices.”

    I agree. I think this is probably an error of hypercorrection. Most people simply don’t (consciously) “know” the rules–so much of grammar is subconsciously internalized, so the average person can’t even explain why they say it this way rather than that.

    This is a good argument for the danger of correction without proper explanation, since it leads to uninformed prescriptivism, which leads to mistakes of hypercorrection such as this.

    It’s like the telephone game. Say my teacher corrected me, but I didn’t adequately understand the underlying rules, so I start correcting people whenever they say “X and me” instead of only when it occurs in the object position of the phrase.

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