Why "'Em" Isn't Short for "Them." The Subjunctive. Sussies.

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By Mignon Fogarty, Inc.. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

When you say "Go get 'em!" you think that's short for "Go get them," but you're wrong! We look at the fascinating history of some English pronouns. Plus, we look at how Neil Gaiman uses the subjunctive mood in "American Gods" to underscore moments of uncertainty.

WHY "'EM" ISN'T SHORT FOR "THEM"

Written by Valerie Fridland, a professor of linguistics at the University of Nevada in Reno and the author of a forthcoming book on all the speech habits we love to hate. She is also a language expert for "Psychology Today" where she writes a monthly blog, Language in the Wild. You can find her at valeriefridland.com or on Twitter at @FridlandValerie.

References

López, Ignacio. 2007. The social status of /h/ in English. "Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses." 157-166. "em, pron." OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2022, www.oed.com/view/Entry/85779. Accessed 11 April 2022.

Algeo, J., Butcher, C. A., & Pyles, T. 2014. "The origins and development of the English language." Boston, Mass.: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

THE SUBJUNCTIVE IN FICTION

Written by Edwin Battistella, a professor of linguistics and writing at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, where he has served as a dean and as interim provost. He is the author of "Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels: Insulting the President, from Washington to Trump" (OUP, 2020), "Do You Make These Mistakes in English?" (OUP, 2009), "Bad Language" (OUP, 2005), and "The Logic of Markedness" (OUP, 1996).

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