I’m a grammar nerd. And a music fan. That’s why I always got a chuckle at the title of the mega popular 90s jam band Phish tune called “You Enjoy Myself.” The intentional misuse of the reflexive pronoun “myself” was meant to be cheeky. Nowadays, I think people are starting to miss the joke.
The recent example of “myself abuse” that led to this post came from New York Governor David Paterson, a politician and de facto professional communicator, and was delivered on the national stage.
“I’m looking forward to a full investigation of actions taken by myself and my administration but I give you this personal oath,” Paterson said. “I have never abused my office, not now, not ever.”
Personal vow: if I am ever accused of professional misconduct or abusing an elected office, I will not start my public defense with bad grammar.
Another, more common misuse of “myself,” even from senior communicators who should know better, goes something like this: “If you have any questions, see John, Mary or myself.” Remove John and Mary from the mix and you get, “If you have any questions, see myself.” Ouch.
The point is: Why are otherwise solid grammarians compelled to abuse “myself?” I sometimes get the feeling that they’re attempting to come across smarter, more mannered or perhaps even humble. Like somehow saying “me” – even when it’s correct – makes you a “me, me, me” person.
Let’s not fall into that trap. Good grammar is a prerequisite for good communications if you ask myself.
Heard any especially painful examples of “myself abuse” recently? Tell myself about them in the comments. I’m going to compile a book or something.