And for yourself?

Maybe we shouldn’t be too quick to snark at people when they incorrectly use myself in place of me. It is definitely an attempt at sounding more polite and formal in cases like If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact John or myself. For some people it seems that me just doesn’t have the right tone.

Of course it is not uncommon to see myself used non-reflexively in literature and other edited prose, especially in coordination with the third person.

I hear the same sort of thing nearly every time I go to a restaurant in a group, only this time with you. I am asked And for yourself? It seems less intimate but more felicitous than plain old And for you?

What I find very interesting is that this very process already occurred when you took over for thee and thou a few centuries ago for the very same reason. Alternates like youse, y’all (plural all y’all), and yourself are persistently used as a distinctly deferential or simply more polite register.

In the same vein that nature abhors a vaccuum, it would appear that English needs a way to mark some personal pronouns for deference—just like singular vous in French, or the immensely charming himself of Irish-English.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s