pronunciation: me for my

LV4-26

Senior Member
Good morning friends,

Having been to England quite a few times, I'm not too badly acquainted with British colloquial expressions (provided they're not too recent :)). But since I've been on this site, I've been interested in knowing which of them are also used in AE. That's why I'm going to ask the same kind of question again.

My question : is the British colloquial use of "me" in the place of "my" also used in American English?
It's something that you hear extremely often in England. I'll take two examples from my esteemed friend Joe Cocker (at Woodstock festival) :
The next song is "With a Little Help from me friends"
The Grease Band and meself thank you very much.

Are the Americans aware of it just because they've heard Brits say it or because they use it as well?

Incidentally, until I checked a few minutes ago, I'd always thought Cocker was American :)o). That's why I thought of asking this question in the first place.

Jean-Michel
 
  • Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    I believe it would be just plain incorrect in AE, but most AE speakers are familiar with it from BE music, films and so on.
     

    Victoria32

    Senior Member
    English (UK) New Zealand
    I believe it would be just plain incorrect in AE, but most AE speakers are familiar with it from BE music, films and so on.
    That takes me back, that does! My father always said "me glasses", "me chair" etc...

    Joe Cocker, American? He'd be rolling in his grave if he was dead... :D
     

    mirx

    Banned
    Español
    I´ve never heard it in The States but is quite common in Ireland too.

    I love you with all me heart.
     

    Kelly B

    Curmodgeratrice
    USA English
    It's one of the favorite tools of Americans seeking to fake some variety of UK accent. The furthest some of us get from my, I think, is maaaaaaaaaa.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    In BE, turning my into me is not considered very high-class.

    However, in old-fashioned aristocratic English, my often became mi with a very short i sound.
    Lawyers in English cours address the judge as "My lord", and pronounce it either as mi-lord or mi-ludd.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I see it more as an alternate pronunciation of "my", than as an incorrect usage of "me".
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The Middle English Vowel Shift, in which the i sound came to be pronounced ai, affected long stressed vowels more than short unstressed ones. So in my hat (stress on hat) the y is pronounced i like the i in saying, but in my hat (stress on my), y is pronounced ai like the i in mind. At least in England, this feature of pronunciation is common to speakers from all areas, all social classes and all levels of education, especially when they are speaking informally.
    In some kinds of non-standard writing, such as within speech marks, the unstressed pronunciation of 'my' is indicated by spelling the word 'me'.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Bed_With_Medinner
     

    invictaspirit

    Senior Member
    English English
    I would just add that saying 'me' for 'my' in BrE is more a dialectical way of saying 'my' than the actual replacement of the word. In other words, Brits who say 'me dad' think they are saying 'my dad' and would write 'my dad' (unless they were joking/being ironic/badly educated). I would also add that it is more 'mi dad' than the full 'ee' sound in 'me dad'. In this region (and I think most others) the I sound in 'mi dad' is the same as the one in pit and sit, not me and she. Actually saying 'me dad' gives far too long a vowel in me. You will also hear 'my' said with a schwah. M' car/muh car You are probably familiar with the old expressions m' lady and m' lord etc. That pronunciation is often still used.
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    You will also hear 'my' said with a schwah. M' car/muh car You are probably familiar with the old expressions m' lady and m' lord etc. That pronunciation is often still used.
    Yes. In that case, it's only a specific illustration of a more general phenomenon : most unstressed vowels tend to be transformed into a schwah. Although I'd bet it isn't as simple as that; there must be lots of other factors in play.
     

    clairanne

    Senior Member
    english UK
    Hi
    I think it is just regional accents, bad grammar and lazy speech. Even if I said "where's me hat", or more likely ("where's me 'at") I still know that the word should be "my". My mother and school teachers would have always told me off for saying it when I was young.

    Some pop singers tend to go more mid Atlantic and say "ma" I think Joe Cocker is actually nearer to this than "me" on the recording I've got.
     

    petereid

    Senior Member
    english
    the possessive idjectives up here in the north are sometimes bizarre.
    "Give us us shirts" is pretty common in Yorkshire and I think Lancashire
    "Where's wor tommy?" "That's wa house" Newcastle, and Scots
    Lots of "Me", or "Mi" instead of "My"
    and "Tha" instead of "Thy" (your) That informal usage is still alive up here.
     

    mirx

    Banned
    Español
    the possessive idjectives up here in the north are sometimes bizarre.
    "Give us us shirts" is pretty common in Yorkshire and I think Lancashire
    "Where's wor tommy?" "That's wa house" Newcastle, and Scots
    Lots of "Me", or "Mi" instead of "My"
    and "Tha" instead of "Thy" (your) That informal usage is still alive up here.


    Do some people still use "thy" in everyday speech?
     

    MISTERMOPPS

    New Member
    FRENCH
    In BE, turning my into me is not considered very high-class.

    However, in old-fashioned aristocratic English, my often became mi with a very short i sound.
    Lawyers in English cours address the judge as "My lord", and pronounce it either as mi-lord or mi-ludd.
    In Alexandre Dumas' "Les 3 Mousquetaires", one of the characters is called "Milady", and one of Edith Piaf song is "Allez venez Milord", the two expressions still sound very posh and charming for French people .
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I think it is just regional accents, bad grammar and lazy speech. Even if I said "where's me hat", or more likely ("where's me 'at") I still know that the word should be "my". My mother and school teachers would have always told me off for saying it when I was young.

    But the word is in fact 'my'. It's just that speakers have a weak form for pronunciation, just like we use the weak form of the most of the time unless we want to stress it and use the strong form /ði:/. Similarly, your as either /jə/ or /jɔ:/. Speakers are not confusing me and my. It's just that my can be pronounced /mɪ/ or /maɪ/.

    David Crystal, writing on Shakespeare in Original Pronunciation indicates that actors at that time depicting all classes of society including kings and queens would also use /mɪ/ in unstressed position.
     

    almostfreebird

    Senior Member
    Born and raised in Japón, soy japonés
    Hello there, this is the context:

    Cradled in the life-support chair was a very old man.
    "Ghoul," he was saying softly to a man halfway down the table. "You're a slavering ghoul, Parky me boy. Didn't your father teach you that it is polite to wait for a man to stop kicking before you bury him?--(I will fear no evil by Robert Heinlein-- Source http://www.e-reading.org.ua/bookreader.php/73036/Heinlein_-_I_Will_Fear_No_Evil.html

    Is the "me" kind of interjection like "Ah me!" or "Unlucky me!"?
    or a dialectal variant of "my"?

    Thanks in advance.
     

    ><FISH'>

    Senior Member
    British English
    It is definitely not a lazy way to pronounce "my", it is in fact the full word and pronunciation of "me". Someone typing in a dialect will use the word "me" instead of "my", because it does sound natural. I even do that sometimes (not here of course). It's even common to use the word "our" in place of "my", and "us" in place of "me" as a singular.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Couldn't agree more with the previous two posts (quotes included).

    I've always typed "me" (alongside 'my' - it depends) in sites like Facebook because it's my natural pronunciation, and it is absolutely by no means some sort of weird variation, it's massively diffused and not lazy at all. Even the people that would probably call it lazy and "not desirable" will probably say it in the situations where they are being colloquial, and avoiding it wherever they see informal speech inappropriate.

    It's even common to use the word "our" in place of "my", and "us" in place of "me" as a singular.
    Yeah, that is quite common, it's extremely common in most situations in NE England (at least from what I've come across).
    Like if you were greeting a family member they might say "Come here and give us a kiss!", they can easily be standing by themselves, at no point is any consideration of plurality going to cross anyone's mind.
     
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    mplsray

    Senior Member
    Hello there, this is the context:

    Cradled in the life-support chair was a very old man.
    "Ghoul," he was saying softly to a man halfway down the table. "You're a slavering ghoul, Parky me boy. Didn't your father teach you that it is polite to wait for a man to stop kicking before you bury him?--(I will fear no evil by Robert Heinlein-- Source http://www.e-reading.org.ua/bookreader.php/73036/Heinlein_-_I_Will_Fear_No_Evil.html

    Is the "me" kind of interjection like "Ah me!" or "Unlucky me!"?
    or a dialectal variant of "my"?

    Thanks in advance.

    In this case me represents what in standard grammar and pronunciation would be my.


    The work in question is a science fiction novel from 1970 taking place long in the future. The character who speaks the expression in question, Johann Sebastian Bach Smith, is extremely old, and, according to the Heinlein Concordance Web site, his original name was Schmidt, which raises at least a possibility that he was a German-speaking immigrant. Under the circumstances, I don't think this can shed any light on whether any Americans actually do currently use me for my.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Is these the current usage?

    Read the posts above carefully: there are people who say they use these pronunciations. So, yes, current usage for some speakers. As mentioned above, this is the weak form of my. We have weak forms of other possessive pronouns your, his, her, their (strong forms: /jɔː hɪz hɜː ðɛː/, weak forms: /jə ɪz ə ðe/), so why not for my?
     

    Jocaste

    Senior Member
    Français
    Me instead of my seems to be extremely common in Northern English English, especially in Liverpool and Newcastle. I've heard it more there than my, almost.
    "Me car", "me mate", etc.
     

    Makamoe

    Member
    Spanish - Spain
    I'm sure this has been asked before but I can't find the right words to look for it. My doubt concerns the usage of personal pronouns where there should be possessive adjectives. For example, instead of My brother is taller than me or I have my books in my room I've seen Me brother is taller than me or I have me books in me room.

    I only recall seeing it on British or Irish shows (The Full Monty, Mrs Brown's Boys) and only in the first person, so I've come to believe that it's some sort of regionalism.
    Is this right? What's the name o f this phenomenon? And is it grammatically accepted?

    Thanks in advance.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Hullo Makamoe. I know just the thread you're looking for ~ I've added your post to the end of it above:)
    ~ewie, moderator


    by ewie, non-moderator
    When you ask "Is this right?", Makamoe, do you mean: (a) "Is it true that it's some sort of regionalism?"; or (b) "Is it correct to speak this way?"
    My answer to (a) is In British English, no, it's not a regionalism: all speakers do it. If a British English speaker tells you he doesn't do it, that's a British English speaker who's never listened to himself speak.
    My answer to (b) is That depends what you mean by correct. It's extremely common in all varieties of colloquial British English.

    Sorry, I don't know the name of the phenomenon, other than 'reduced form of my' (see posts above).

    In answer to your question "Is it grammatically correct?", the answer is "Yes" ~ unless you ask someone who would say "No" (and who would also probably claim that they would never say it.)
     
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    Makamoe

    Member
    Spanish - Spain
    Thanks a bunch ewie, for the merge and the answers. I meant (a) in the first case. What I'd mean by correct is Is it grammatically correct?, which was the third question. But I must say that knowing it is colloquial clears it up pretty much.

    I've been able to find some mentions on Wikipedia, particularly on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_personal_pronouns#Archaic_and_non-standard_forms, where it is listed under Archaic and non-standard forms. I don't know if you'd agree that it is non-standard being so common in the isles, but I guess it means that it's rather spoken than written English.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi Makamoe

    No, it's not "non-standard". We usually use the term "non-standard" to refer to variations in grammar, and this has nothing to do with grammar.

    It's to do with pronunciation, as ewie says (and therefore to do with spoken language). And yes, pretty much everyone in BrE uses "mi" as a reduced/weak form of "my", whether or not they accept that they do:).
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Hi Makamoe

    No, it's not "non-standard". We usually use the term "non-standard" to refer to variations in grammar, and this has nothing to do with grammar.

    It's to do with pronunciation, as ewie says (and therefore to do with spoken language). And yes, pretty much everyone in BrE uses "mi" as a reduced/weak form of "my", whether or not they accept that they do:).
    :thumbsup: And it is most definitely not archaic.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    A further thought on the "standard"/"non-standard" issue: "me" for "my" is sometimes used in writing as a form of eye dialect, defined here as
    eye dialect
    n.

    The use of nonstandard spellings, such as enuff for enough or wuz for was, to indicate that the speaker is uneducated or using colloquial, dialectal, or nonstandard speech.

    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
    Another example of eye dialect is writing "sez" for "says". "Sez" is a perfectly normal pronunciation of "says", but someone writing "sez" is indicating that the speaker is using a non-standard form of speech.

    ..........

    PS. Just for completeness, it's probably worth mentioning that some varieties of BrE have another weak form of "my": /mə/.
     
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    Yuuichi Tam

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Note: This newer discussion has been added to a previous thread. Cagey, moderator

    I came across this sentence " I get this ache in me leg, ever since the accident."

    This is from a teaching material for English learners. Does this phrase "in me leg" make sense or a typo of "in my leg"?
     
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    Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    It's either a typo or a representation of how some people pronounce "my" in casual conversation [- although I'd probably have written the latter as "mi leg":rolleyes: so I'll stick with the typo option.]
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If it's in some teaching material it's probably a typo.

    But, in some parts of the UK, you'll quite frequently hear 'me' instead of 'my'.

    And quite often when we say 'my' quickly in the middle of a sentence, it might sound like 'me'.


    Cross-posted.
     

    DonnyB

    Moderator Emeritus
    English UK Southern Standard English
    No, it's not a typo: it's an accurate copy of a sentence from the book "Tyler: His Story" (Time Chronicles) by Roderick Hunt.

    It reflects the way that some BE speakers use "me" instead of the standard "my": it's semi-slang, but it's presumably just the way that particular character (Tyler) in the book talks. :)
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It's the way some old-timers in old American movies talk, too. Maybe it has died out here.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    See also this discussion:
    < Threads merged. Thank you, Cagey >

    It's so widely-used in the UK that I wouldn't call it "dialect". I'd say it's "colloquial", or "non-standard" when written down.
     
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    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    This is a graduated series of 'readers' for native English speaking children learning to read. They aren't learning to speak English.
    We quite often use 'me' instead of 'my' in a sort of comical style affecting a rustic style of speech.
     
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