I have noticed two usages which, in England, seem familiar only to journalists. One was in a headline in the Mail today: "This port ain't big enough for the both of us". I have never heard "the both" uttered in BrE. The other is "You and me both".Starting with the both: I think of the AmE expression as 'this town ain't big enough for the two of us', and indeed two outnumbers both by about 17:4 in the context [adjective] enough for the ___ of [pronoun] in the Corpus of Contemporary AmE (COCA) (and there's exactly one of these things in British National Corpus [BNC], and it has two too).
The this town... line is usually associated with western films (a variation on it was said by a character named Duke in Bandits of the Badlands (1945)). But there are earlier occurrences (the oldest ones with two), and the earliest one I've found is in Anthony Trollope's The Vicar of Bullhampton (1870)--not a western, unless you count Wiltshire as 'the West' (and apparently some people do consider it to be part of the West Country). There, the eponymous character says: "Heytesbury isn't big enough for the two of us". There's also a 1903 "Ostrokov is not big enough to hold the two of us, and that consequently, while I am vicar here, you shall never be rabbi." in the American magazine The Living Age (though the quoted text clearly not set in America, and I don't know who the author is). So, today's stereotype-busting lesson: it's men of the cloth who deserve the reputation for saying such things, not cowboys or sheriffs.
Comparing just the both of [pronoun] (the both of us, the both of you, the both of them, plus some alternative forms of those pronouns) in the BNC and COCA is kind of interesting. That is, it had better be interesting because I just spent too much of my Friday night looking at it. (In parentheses are the hits when the is excluded. They're less reliable, since they include contexts with possessive pronouns.)
|AmE (COCA)||10.8 (97)||5.6 (141)|
|BrE (BNC)||12 (21)||1.1(123)|
Since the both of occurs more in speech than in writing, it looks as though it's considered to be somewhat informal in both dialects, but more so in BrE. In BrE spoken, the the version is 57% of the total both of [pronoun] hits, versus AmE's 11%. The other way to use both with a pronoun would be [pronoun] both. There, we find 311 per 10m in BNC and 296 per 10m in COCA. This looks pretty similar. (I did find some strange codings in COCA--though not enough to make the figures very different. But since when is coffee a personal pronoun?)
Meanwhile, the two of [pronoun] is about twice as frequent in COCA than in the BNC. I haven't done further analysis of this because I can't seem to weed out the possessive pronouns (none occurred in the both data), but I can look more specifically at particular instantiations of this construction: the two of us and the two of you, and compare it to the equivalent [pronoun] two constructions. (Though, it must be said, this method can't sort out things like I want to give you two puppies. But we'll just have to assume that this kind of "noise" is constant across the dialects. It might not be.)
Instances per 10 million words
|dialect||the two |
| we two +|
That COCA has 20% spoken data and BNC only 10% may go some way toward(s) explaining the differences, since you might need to specify the number of referents of a pronoun more often in a speech context. But I don't think that's the whole story--after all, the numbers have the two of you occurring about three times more often in AmE and just under half of the AmE instances are spoken. So, the two of [pronoun], like the both of [pronoun], seems more common in AmE than BrE, and BrE doesn't seem to be making up for it by using many more [pronoun] two or [pronoun] both. So, do Americans just specify numbers of pronoun referents more often than BrE speakers/writers do? Or have I left out another means of sticking a number "on" a pronoun? Probably we need a much more thorough analysis with more comparable corpora (the BNC is 20 years old) before we can tell.
Moving on to Jeremy's second item, [pronoun] and [pronoun] both is much more common in AmE (40 per million words) than BrE (0.26 pmw)--although AmE didn't invent it. The OED says:
Both may follow, instead of preceding (as in A. 1), the two words or phrases connected by and; now only in the case of two ns. (two pronouns, or n. and pronoun) subjects of the same plural verb, but formerly (and still dialectally) in all other cases. In this use both may often be replaced by too or also.They include the example:
1561 T. Hoby tr. B. Castiglione Courtyer (1577) P vij, It shalbe good for him and me both.I wrote this whole entry before remembering to look at John Algeo's British or American English? I approached it with contradictory wishes: (1) If he discusses all this, I'll have wasted hours of my Friday night. I hope he hasn't discussed it. (2) My corpus evidence is pretty shaky. I hope he discusses it. I got wish (1). Algeo does mention, however, that AmE prefers both of these [plural noun] whereas BrE prefers both those [plural noun]. Oddly, though, this preference does not extend to both (of) those, where both varieties prefer the of version.
And before I go:
Today (wait! it's not today anymore! help!) was my third Twitterversary. If you're not on Twitter, you probably have a rich and interesting life. But you're not on Twitter. And oh how much I've gained from Twitter! Forget LinkedIn--this is the way to network. While I have to be very careful about not following too many accounts or trying to read everything that's posted (I could easily make it my full-time job), I learn so so much through it every day. I was interviewed for a film about Twitter this week, and I kept coming back to a similar theme: Twitter helps me appreciate how complex the world is--from the macro level of international affairs to the micro level of people's daily triumphs and struggles. So, hurray for Twitter! And hurray for my followers there, who enrich my understanding of national varieties of English every day. If you'd like to meet me there, you can find me here.