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A pattern:

I like me a good book.

I like me some fried eggs.

Most English speakers would not express ideas in this way. However, this vernacular is not uncommon in some parts of the United States.

Questions:

  1. Does the word "me" in this phrase make it grammatically incorrect?
  2. What is the known history of this phrase pattern?

I've never seen it in print before, and I'm curious about its origins. A search of the web via search engine and this website directly didn't yield any results.

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    Seems to mean for myself, akin to the French me-I in "Moi, je ..." Commented May 8 at 19:56
  • @YosefBaskin I don't think so: "moi je" is nothing but "je"; akin rather to the French "Je me les mange cru (eggs).": in that case ("datif éthique"), the added pronoun is meant to show some special interest in the action. I don't know what the added "me" means in AmE, though.
    – LPH
    Commented May 8 at 20:15
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    What about "Thou art like one of those fellows that when he enters the confines of a tavern claps me his sword upon the table " - Romeo and Juliet, III 1.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented May 9 at 16:45

2 Answers 2

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The phrasing is grammatical within the dialects that use it but seldom used in published writing.

Scholar Lawrence Horn, in a paper on the subject (1), calls this usage the "personal dative" pronominal in transitive clauses. He directly compares this to similar usages in languages like French, e.g., Je me prends un petit café [I take me a little coffee]. In French, that usage is commonplace; in English, it's frowned upon in standardized or professional usage but exists in some American dialects, including but not limited to the Southeast and Appalachia.

Note that this usage isn't the same as the reflexive pronoun, that is, it isn't functioning as a direct object and is not even functioning as an indirect object:

I like me a good book (personal dative pronoun)

(x) I like myself a good book (reflexive pronoun as direct object; doesn't work because myself would be a direct object but like doesn't take two direct objects without [and])

I like a good book for myself (reflexive pronoun as indirect object)

Instead, Horn claims that the usage is a non-argumentative dative, that is, they are not objects of the verbs. Rather, they are adjuncts emphatic of how preferable the statement is to the subject (what Horn calls a "conventional implicature ... of subject affect"). The personal dative appears far more often in the positive than in negation, and most instances of negation are qualified. Take this illustration (p. 183), where the positive statement is far more common than the negative:

enter image description here

As for more on the usage, looking up the "personal dative" will get you resources like the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project. This site cites Horn as well as other linguists studying the usage.

(1) Horn, L. R. (2008). I love me some him”: The landscape of non-argument datives. Empirical issues in syntax and semantics, 7(1), 169-192.

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    @Lambie That's what I said. "In French, that usage is commonplace; in English, it's frowned upon in standardized or professional usage but exists in some American dialects, including but not limited to the Southeast and Appalachia." Commented May 8 at 22:21
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    No, Horn said it. And I am saying the professor is mistaken in comparing the two, they are not comparable. They just seem that way to someone who doesn't really know French because they look similar.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 8 at 22:30
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    I’m not convinced there’s a fundamental difference with the reflexive pronoun here. There are cases where only one or the other is possible, but those are different constructions. The PD constructions where Horn marks only the reflexive as ungrammatical seem perfectly fine to me (e.g., “buy himself a pick-up for his son”, “needs himself a little more sense”). Especially in the second person, the non-reflexive pronoun is usually all but impossible to me (“have *you a merry little Christmas”). “Get you a man who…” is a common trope, but to me at least borderline ungrammatical. Commented May 9 at 12:48
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    @PLL Agreed entirely. The construction and meaning is clear, I’m only disagreeing with the distinction that only the objective pronoun, not the reflexive, can be used in it. Commented May 9 at 16:04
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    @Tuffy The reflexive pronouns in French don’t distinguish accusative and dative (direct/indirect object) – only the third-person personal pronouns do. Commented May 9 at 16:04
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Does the word "me" in this phrase make it grammatically incorrect?

Not really, but it depends on how far back you want to go to justify its use.

The "me" is the use of the Old English dative "me" = "for me" (or "to me") and
forms the equivalent of the current "for myself" or (to myself)

German, like English, is a Germanic language and this use of "me" is still current in German as we can see in the title of the book by Joseph Anton "Ich habe mir die Zeit geborgt" ( I have borrowed me the time") -> I have borrowed time for myself.

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