Thursday, March 20, 2008

Firsten redux

A few days ago I disagreed with Richard Firsten's analysis of the construction "for us teachers". Where he said us is a pronoun followed by an appositive, I argued that us is a determinative followed by a noun. He has now written to explain where I went wrong:
"Something that I think you have overlooked is the fact that this peculiar pattern (For us teachers / For you nurses) only occurs in the 1st and 2nd person plural. Odd, I know, but that's English. When we want to create a similar idea for 3rd person plural, we go to use a different pattern, and I think that's why the need for a determiner like those, or a phrase like people who are (For those teachers / For people who are nurses). In fact, saying For those teachers I would venture, is an ellipted phrase (For those [who are] teachers). That point could easily be another interpretation of what's going on in those 1st and 2nd person plural phrases."
I will provide two lists and leave it to the reader to decide whose analysis best fits the facts:

List 1 (pronoun + appositive)
It's for us, the teachers.
It's for me, the teacher.
It's for you, the teacher.
It's for her, the teacher.
It's for them, the teachers.

List 2 (determinative + noun)
It's for which teacher?
It's for no teacher.
It's for another teacher.
It's for either teacher.
It's for any teacher.
It's for every teacher.
It's for those teachers.
It's for both teachers.
It's for all teachers.
It's for most teachers.
It's for a few teachers.
It's for whichever teachers.
It's for us teachers.
It's for you teachers.


The Ridger, FCD said...

Hmmm ... "for them teachers" is always corrected to "for those teachers". I think you may be right: which deictic word could be used for "us" or "you" that wouldn't point away? "For these teachers" and "for us teachers" aren't equivalent at all.

Brett said...

I hadn't considered that, but I do agree.