David M. Brown's Blog

December 1, 2012

The “I” has it; or, the bloated minimizing of “me”

Filed under: Language and grammar — davidmbrowndotcom @ 3:46 am

Can there be any plausible rationale for the following wording: “For me, I…”? (As opposed to a justifiable stressing of contrast with a preceding subject as typically conveyed by “As for me, I….”?) A few examples of “I”-padding that I find flabby:

For me, I have been waiting for the iPad Mini for some time.

Different story, different writer:

The iPad mini—at least for me—allows me to type easily…

Same story, same writer:

For me, I didn’t feel that way…

For me, I don’t think I’m nitpicking, given how many other examples of wordiness can be found in each of the above articles.

Does any writer genuinely fear that the naked and alone pronoun “I” (or, for that matter, “me”) will unless slathered in redundancy be confused with “you,” “he,” “they,” or some other uber-familiar pronoun? Isn’t the first person singular pronoun very well established in its reference to self? As pronouns go, it cannot be surpassed for clarity. At least I think so. For me.

Assertions of knowledge are always asserted by a self making a claim to know. The better informed a writer is, the smarter he is, the wiser he is, the more confident he may be in voicing his judgments. Even so, the possibility of error or incompleteness may be taken as a given unless the writer is also making a special effort to imply infallibility. Yet some writers seem to fear that their most ordinary and uncontroversial articulations of personal assessments will be taken as too obnoxiously egotistical and assertive of identifiable fact unless linguistically wet-noodle-ified. Paradoxically, the result of the linguistic linguini is that the judgmentalism-eschewing self calls distracting and wordy attention to itself. The point of the article is set aside until the author can exorcise the demon of self. “Look at me! I’m not foisting my preferences and analysis on you!! I, for me, am not trying to pick a fight here! I’d never impose me and my subjectively perceived universe on you and your subjectively perceived universe, which latter, however contradictory to mine, is ever so equally valid! Ah me! Wonderful, tentative, card-carryingly nonjudgmental, unedited me! Oh frabjulous day, coolah coolay!”

For you, do you agree with me? Because, you know (and I know), for me, and for you, you sure should.

Advertisements

2 Comments »

  1. I agree with you. I never thought until now of the fear of implying infallibility to be a cause for people to hedge their opinions, but it sounds reasonable, especially if they hold also to the idea of the impossibility of knowledge, with knowledge implying omniscience.

    Comment by Tom — December 1, 2012 @ 5:08 pm | Reply

  2. I’d say it’s more the insistence on subjectivity that is informing the hyper-tentativeness. In the implicit view of such writers, it’s not that we can’t objectively know everything about the world; it’s that we can’t OBJECTIVELY know ANYTHING about the world… We can know only the world-as-subjectively-filtered. I assume that any of the writers I quoted may disagree that we can’t know anything objectively about the world. It may not be their view. But then it’s the view of somebody or other whose wording they’re imitating. Why would there have to be such a special gratuitous stress on the subjectivity, the for-me-ness of a perception or evaluation, except as a means to ward off the possibility that the writer will be understood to be making an objective claim about the usability of a gadget or the nature of the world? A claim about what is true in fact, rather than merely as a matter of one person’s perception?

    Comment by davidmbrowndotcom — May 20, 2013 @ 8:47 pm | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: