Sunday, May 29, 2011

CHOICES: A DIGRESSION



When the International Dagger Shortlist was announced on Friday 20 May I stopped reading Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen, which didn't make the list, and switched to the impeccably researched long historical novel The Saint-Florentin Murders by Jean-Franc0is Parot, translator Howard Curtis, which did make the shortlist.

I found it difficult at first to get into this book possibly because I am still not used to reading on a Kindle, but now I am enjoying it immensely, although I have some reservations. I should finish reading this book in a few days, and then I will be able to pick my winner from the seven books on the International Dagger shortlist.

I am a bit of a history nut, and my Kindle understands this, because very frequently when switch off up comes a portrait of Alexandre Dumas; reminding me of the first adult books I read- The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After [my favourite] and The Count of Monte Cristo. Tough competition for M. Jean-Francois Parot.

After 7 years of dentistry [5 as a student, 2 as a shakily qualified dentist] I decided I could not face another 30 plus years of molars and incisors, and longed to go back to university to study History.
In those days the London A-level History examination consisted of a paper each on English and European History, and a third paper on a special subject chosen by the school or candidate. One of the special subjects was France in the Age of Richelieu and Mazarin, the years roughly 1624-1661, but although I knew a lot about this period, I decided that the convoluted politics of France were too tricky and that The Great Powers in the Far East, 1840-1941, was an easier option.
The Ancien Regime background to The Saint-Florentin Murders set in 1774, and the more recent events at the Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan make it clear that French political life continues to be Byzantine, and full of "characters".

The British taxpayer after providing me with a generous grant for 5 years, was rightly unwilling to fund a further 3 years study at university, and therefore based on financial necessity I chose dentistry over history. I suppose life is full of choices but would I have read as much crime fiction, or met so many interesting people if I was a history scholar.

If I might digress to ask a question. I was taught in school [admittedly in the era of chalk dust and the cane] that "my wife and I" was the correct usage. But recently I heard the urbane, intelligent and articulate President Obama refer to "me and Michelle", and earlier the slightly less urbane, intelligent and articulate PM David Cameron refer to "me and Samantha".
What is the correct usage? Do politicians have such a huge ego that they automatically think of themselves first?
Oops that is two questions.

8 Comments:

Blogger Dorte H said...

LOL

But no matter what, you are free to ´study´ crime fiction today.

I would certainly say "Ole and I", but I don´t know what goes wrong, because again the husband is mentioned first ;D

Cheers from a modern-day chalk lover.

6:49 AM  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I would say, "my spouse and I," or "Joan and I," or if it were a woman speaking, then "Jack and I," or "my spouse and I."

10:09 AM  
Blogger Margot Kinberg said...

Norman - The linguist in me would say that in standard English, it's "My husband and I" if it's the subject of a sentence, as in:

My husband and I are really looking forward to our holiday.

But it's "me" if it's the object of a sentence, like this:


This is such an honour for my husband and me.


In both cases, though, I was taught that the first-person pronoun goes second in standard English. Just my tuppence worth.


And don't get me started, please, on choices we make and their outcomes. You don't want to hear my long story. You really don't. I just give you so much credit for pursuing your interest in crime fiction and thank you for sharing your deep knowledge of history with us.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Dorte, Kathy and Margot for your input.

I was not surprised when our PM uttered the "me and Samantha" because an upper class accent, or sentence construction, is regarded as an electoral disadvantage in the UK.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The form depends on the phrase's function in the sentence. If it's the subject, "my wife and I" is correct; if it's the object, "my wife and me." (If in doubt, convert the sentence to singular to see which first-person pronoun is correct.)

My wife and I visited the White House. The Obamas impressed my wife and me.

Usage guidelines have nothing to say about whether it's "my wife and me" or "me and my wife," though etiquette might.

At least in America, a belief somehow took hold that "I" is always correct. If you hear I used as a subject, you are hearing someone cowed by insecurity into making a mistake.
==========================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

11:07 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Peter it is now explained: Cameron is doing it to hide his upper class Eton background, and the President is showing he is definitely not cowed by insecurity. ;o)

11:39 PM  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"My wife and me" is never correct if the speaker is not married, of course.

11:59 PM  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Yes, and this is why I use "spouse" or "partner" or "life partner," instead of husband and wife. Or even "significant other."

There are very long-time couples of men and women who live together in the U.S. Although their union may not be legally recognized, they are as committed -- and may have children together, too -- as those who are legally married.

Also, there are gay and lesbian couples who want to be legally married or not or have been married in a state that does that, and then they live in another state. And there are those who have civil unions, or others who don't.

So, rather than check people's legal documents before I introduce them or refer to them, I prefer words that encompass all
possibilities.

This to avoid embarrassment or faux pas.

This veers off the exact topic a bit, but in my life, I have to worry about these life scenarios among many friends and colleagues.

12:47 AM  

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