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I was playing Warcraft. I clicked on my peon.

He told me: "me busy. leave me alone."

Why is it OK to say it that way instead of just "I'm busy."?

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    The specific construction of "*Me X. [You Y]" probably qualifies as a trope in and of itself to represent savage/unintelligent/uneducated characters. – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Apr 6 at 9:18
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    The expression demonstrates that the menial peon is uneducated, he speaks a funny illiterate english... – com.prehensible Apr 6 at 12:08
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    It's simply "Tarzan speak" from the famous character. – Fattie Apr 6 at 16:44
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    @alephzero "Me fail English? That's unpossible!" – JimmyJames Apr 6 at 17:57
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    It's not correct. That's the point. – Len Apr 7 at 3:07
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It's wrong. This is deliberate on the part of the game designers. Peons are not known for being highly educated or well-spoken.

However, babies sometimes speak this way before they learn the difference between objective pronouns (me) and subjective pronouns (I). For that reason, incorrect constructions like "me (verb)" or "me (adjective)" are associated with "baby talk."

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    @phoog I am not aware of any dialects where this is actually considered correct. Do you have any specific examples? – Foogod Apr 6 at 15:03
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    @Foogod Jamaican Patois comes to mind. – phoog Apr 6 at 15:26
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    @Foogod of course the line between something being a separate language or a dialect of the same language is not strict. All I know for sure is that I hear people from the Caribbean using "me" as a (non-compound) subject from time to time, and I can understand what they're saying, and I recognize it as being (some version of) my native language, which is US English. Perhaps I would not understand everything they say in their dialect-or-language, but then again there are also varieties of English that are indisputably not different languages where I don't understand everything. – phoog Apr 6 at 17:36
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    @phoog I don't think the game designers intended to be suggestin' dat peons speak Jamaican patois, mon. – TypeIA Apr 6 at 21:09
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    @TypeIA Of course not, that's Trolls. – barbecue Apr 6 at 21:29
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Imagine a man who was raised in the jungle by animals ever since he was a child. He was not taught English since animals don't speak English. He has only recently met his first human, and is currently being exposed to speaking English (or any civilised language, for that matter) Which statement would make more sense to come from him, in this context:

  • "Me Tarzan, you Jane"
  • "Salutations! I am called Tarzan, and I surmise your name to be Jane?"

Your question seems to assume that Tarzan should have a grammatical (and thus educational) level equivalent to that of either the reader or the person he is speaking to - but Tarzan is inherently defined as a character who is lacking any education. It makes sense for him to not have a good handle on grammar. It literally defines his character and the entire narrative - a man who is learning about civilization for the first time.

Peons, by their very nature of being a peon, lack the same grammatical skill that Tarzan does. They are defined by their lack of refinement. Their statements specifically reveal that these are not highly trained individuals.

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    I think it's safe to assume that Tarzan, a.k.a. John Clayton II, Viscount Greystoke, would know the correct usage of first and second person pronouns. – Lee Mosher Apr 6 at 14:05
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    @LeeMosher but that's not the story told in the movie. Flater: Tarzan uttered these lines in a language lesson scene, not as a greeting, so this translation into more verbose English is probably incorrect. – phoog Apr 6 at 14:17
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"Me busy" is not standard English. It's an example of "caveman speak", which is a form of English used in fiction when depicting characters who are capable of speech, but who are very stupid, brutish or "primitive".

Your character in Warcraft is probably an orc or some species like that. The game has your character speaking in "caveman speak" in order to show that he is unintelligent.

I don't know of any real-world varieties of English that are similar to "caveman speak". In my experience, it's not similar to the speech of children, non-native speakers, or people with language disabilities.

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    Well, I think it's quite common to see "me x" sentences on discord, not sure if gamers qualify as caveman, but it is used as cute/short/distancing form in those subcultures as well. – eckes Apr 7 at 18:23
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    @eckes that may be connected to /me which is a common emote command on a lot of platforms devolving into use in plain language. As for Tanner, you're correct, peons are an orc character and thus the low level of english. – Andrew Apr 7 at 20:17

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