Tuesday, October 17, 2006
‘On Language’ 10/4: Woe is `me’: `Myself’ now the object of our affection
The pronouns “me,” “myself” and “I” look like a tidy trio. ...
But something seems to have given “myself” a push past the others.
Here’s an example:
“The decision to take action was an operational matter, but was taken with the full knowledge of the prime minister, the deputy prime minister and the secretary of state for transport, as well as myself,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff assured the public back in August.
Chertoff should have said “and me,” according to those who believe the use of “myself” is getting out of control.
In a survey of its Usage Panel, a handpicked group of authors, the American Heritage Dictionary found that 75 percent of the panel rejected replacing “me” with “myself” in the phrase “like me.”
A resounding 88 percent frowned on “myself” in a compound object—“he asked John and myself”—instead of “John and me.”
Yet the American Heritage Dictionary notes using “myself” in place of “I” or “me” is common in the history of English literature. ...