Monday, November 28, 2011

The problem with words without sound semantic underpinnings

Recently, in My Media English Watch in Jose Carillo’s English Forum, I made a passing comment about “coopetation,” a strange-sounding new word proudly coined by Mr. Andre Kahn, chair of the Advertising Board of the Philippines, during the recent Philippine Advertising Congress held in the recently renamed province of CamSur (it used to be “Camarines Sur”) in the Bicol Region. According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer news story that even used “coopetation” in its headline, Mr. Kahn was inspired to coin that word to describe the spirit that should prevail among rival advertising agencies. “Coopetition means that even though we compete within the industry we can cooperate for the common good of our members like what we have done here,” Mr. Kahn said. In short, he meant “coopetation” to be a happy fusion of the words “cooperation” and “competition.”

Today, I finally found the time to check “coopetation” with Google and found that it’s not new coinage at all. From what I can gather, that neologism and it variants “coopertition” or “co-opertition” have actually been recoined several times since 1913 to yield the sense of “cooperative competition.” But it looks like it didn’t get much traction outside business circles, even if it finally made it to the Oxford Dictionary after the 1980s as a mass noun denoting “collaboration between business competitors, in the hope of mutually beneficial results.” Surprisingly, though, my Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary hasn’t officially recognized “coopetation” yet as a legitimate English word. Indeed, despite being recoined in earnest several times, “coopetition” definitely had not captured the public imagination over the years in the same way as, say, Sarah Palin’s misshapen “refudiate.” That shoddy neologism of hers has already been cited 284,000 times in Google since she inadvertently coined it on Twitter sometime in July 2010; in fact, “refudiate” even made it to the New Oxford American Dictionary less than four months later.

So, the question now is: Will Mr. Kahn’s purposively coined “coopetation” do better than its predecessor neologisms and fare as well in usage as “refudiate”? We really can’t tell. But way back in 2006, in an essay about the noun “racket” that I wrote for my English-usage column in The Manila Times, I had tossed around some thoughts about word creation and the unilateral changing of word meanings. It floored me then that the noun “racket” was suddenly being used in the positive sense as an “an easy and lucrative—but legitimate—means of livelihood,” in contrast to its widely accepted negative sense as “a fraudulent scheme, enterprise, or activity” or “a usually illegitimate enterprise made workable by bribery or intimidation.” I’m now posting that essay in this week’s edition of the Forum as a cautionary tale against word misuse in general and, well, against coinage of English words without sound semantic underpinnings. (November 27, 2011)

When wordplay goes overboard

Going by its dictionary definition, the noun “racket” means “a fraudulent scheme, enterprise, or activity” or “a usually illegitimate enterprise made workable by bribery or intimidation.” More loosely, it means “an easy and lucrative means of livelihood” and is slang for “occupation or business” (Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary). In whatever sense, though, I have always thought of the word as denoting something socially abhorrent—perhaps even illegal or criminal.

Sometime in September, however, a fellow English-language editor sent me e-mail that disquietingly turned the word “racket” on its head, so to speak. “May bago po akong raket (I have a new racket),” he said, then proceeded to describe the new enterprise he was engaged in. What he really meant was a new “sideline” that was not even remotely illegal or illegitimate, so I found it disturbing that he should use a normally distasteful word for it. Perhaps such loose usage would be acceptable in informal, face-to-face conversations, but it was very unbecoming to be put in writing by someone who should have more respect for language and its nuances.

I had already forgotten that incident but recently, during lunch with a former associate in the English-language editing business, the peculiar usage popped out again when she asked me this question: “Ano ho ba ang raket ninyo ngayon? (What is your racket at present?).” I almost choked on my drink hearing that nasty word again! How could such a serious distortion of meaning gain wide currency in our language? What is it that makes even intelligent, discerning people view illicit, aberrant things as perfectly acceptable?

It didn’t take long for me to find possible answers to these questions. Driving through a main thoroughfare to meet a client sometime later, I came across scores of product streamers that posed the following question (or words to this effect) in big, bold letters: “Ano ba ang raket ninyo ngayong summer? (What’s your racket this summer?).” It appears that the use of “raket” with a positive spin had been legitimized by mass advertising. For shock value and recall, the word had been appropriated to mean “any business” or “gimik” (gimmick)—one that’s easy and pleasurable to do. In the process, of course, the fraudulent and illegitimate aspects of the word had been glossed over (or shall we say even glamorized?)

In this sense, “racket” joins the word “salvage” in having been corrupted in Philippine usage to mean its opposite. The first is from a grim, derogatory word into a respectable, fun word; and the other from a respectable, positive word into an unpleasant, derogatory word. Some of us will probably recall that the verb “salvage” means “to rescue or save [something] especially from wreckage or ruin,” but in the Philippine context, it has become a euphemism for “to kill or assassinate” or “to execute or dispose of a person summarily and secretly.” This usage grew out from a government task force report that inadvertently used the word to describe the extra-legal executions of thousands of Filipinos between 1975 and 1983 during martial law.

(The Filipino writer Jose F. Lacaba, in a note to the Double-Tongued Word Wrester, a website that records old and new words from the fringes of English, makes this observation about this inversion of “salvage”: “It began as an anglicization or Englishing of the Tagalog word ‘salbahe,’ whose meaning ranges from mischievous or abusive (adj.) and a notoriously abusive person (noun). ‘Salbahe,’ in turn, is derived from the Spanish word ‘salvaje,’ wild, undomesticated, savage.”)

It is normal for a society to do all sorts of wordplay, of course, but I think the Philippine use of “racket” and “salvage” to denote their opposite sense has gone dangerously overboard. We must draw the line somewhere to safeguard language and our value systems. As the slogan of my favorite English-language website,, sagely warns, “A society is generally as lax as its language.” (April 24, 2006)
From the weekly column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in The Manila Times, April 24, 2006 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Two options when plain indicative sentences are not forceful enough

Most of the day-to-day writing that we do consists of simple, plainspoken indicative sentences that make use of the normal subject-verb-predicate construction pattern, as in “We wrote the refrigerator manufacturer about its poor customer service.” Sometimes, out of impatience or anger, we make such indicative sentences more forceful by ending them with an exclamation mark: “We wrote the refrigerator manufacturer about its poor customer service!” Then, in the event that the veracity of that declaration of ours is challenged or denied, we realize the need for an even more forceful way of presenting our case or making our point. This is when we take recourse to the emphatic tenses, as in “We did write that refrigerator manufacturer about its poor customer service!” or, to give even more emotional force to our statement, perhaps express it in the form of an inverted sentence, as in “The poor customer service of that refrigerator manufacturer is what we complained about!”

In an essay that I wrote for my English-usage column in The Manila Times in 2003, I discussed the grammatical structure and workings of the emphatic tenses and inverted sentences. That essay later formed part of the “Usage and Style” prescriptions of my book English Plain and Simple. I am now posting that essay here to show how we can convey our thoughts and ideas more forcefully without taking recourse to more complicated—and more semantically demanding—rhetorical devices. (November 20, 2011)

The emphatic forms and inverted sentences

Every language develops modes not just to share information but to convey thoughts and ideas more forcefully. In English, verbs evolved two special forms—the emphatic tenses—to provide emphasis to the actions they describe. The present emphatic emphasizes actions or conditions happening in the present, and the past emphatic emphasizes those that occurred in the past. More commonly, however, the emphatic forms are used in two types of sentence constructions where emphasis is not intended: to work with the adverb “not” in negative sentences, and to form questions or the interrogative mode, in which the normal sentence construction is inverted. We must understand this distinction clearly to avoid mistakes in using the emphatic tenses.

The present emphatic tense of verbs is formed by putting the present-tense verb “do” or “does” ahead of their basic present form. Here are examples of the present emphatic tense used for emphasis: “I do like apples.” “She does think fast.” “They do act slowly.” The intent is to express the action or state more forcefully. In contrast, here are examples when emphasis is not intended: “The group does not agree.” (forming a negative sentence) “Does the jury have a verdict?” (forming a question).

The past emphatic tense of verbs is formed by putting the past-tense “did” ahead of their basic present form. Examples of the past emphatic tense used for emphasis: “I did write that letter.” “She did come as expected.” “They did pay on schedule.” Examples when emphasis is not intended: “He did not deliver as promised.” “Didn’t you finish the work last night?”

Sentences that use the emphatic tense for emphasis are either affirmative or negative responses to an apparently persistent question, whether stated or only implied. See what happens when this question is asked: “Did you really write that letter?” The emphatic answer would either be “I did write that letter” or “No, I didn’t write that letter.” This is the situational context for using the emphatic forms. It conveys the sense of the speaker either explicitly owning or denying an act, or claiming to be correct in his or her belief regarding the action of others.

Another device for emphasis in the English language, one that is often misunderstood and much maligned, is the inverted sentence. This grammatical form, in which the verb comes ahead the subject, does present agreement problems and possible confusion when used too often. Here’s an example from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: “Away from light steals home my heavy son /And private in his chamber pens himself...

Note that it is the verb “away” that starts the sentence, with the subject “son” far removed from it. The normal-order sentence would go as follows: “My heavy son steals home away from light...” A heightened emotional state can be felt in the first, a dry forthrightness in the second. That difference comes from the change in the form, order, and rhythm of the language itself.

It is, of course, not only in poetry where inverted sentences find excellent use. They can give prose much-welcome variety and punch when used judiciously in a sea of normal-order sentences. Feel the emotional difference between the following normal-order sentences and their corresponding inverted sentences: (1) “Her behavior could be explained in no other way.” “In no other way could her behavior be explained.” (2) “I saw only then the possibilities of the new business.” “Only then did I see the possibilities of the new business.” (3) “She didn’t realize that he had deceived her till she got the letter from a total stranger.” “Not until she got the letter from a total stranger did she realize that he had deceived her.”

When using inverted sentences, however, we must make an extra effort to double-check agreement of the verb with the subject. This subject always follows the number of the verb and not of the nouns or pronouns that come before it: “In the grassy plains lives the last antelope.” It would seem that the singular verb “lives” should be the plural “live” instead to agree with “grassy plains,” but this proves to be not the case; the true subject is not “the grassy plains” but the singular “the last antelope.” See also what happens if the sentence were written another way: “In the grassy plain live the last antelopes.” In this case, the subject “the last antelopes” is plural, so the verb must also take the plural form “live” to agree with it.

Take note, too, that sentences beginning with “there” or “here” are actually in the inverted form: “There is a can of corned beef in the cupboard.” “Here comes the parade.” “There” and “here” are, of course, not the subjects. It is “corned beef” in the first, and “parade” in the second. The two sentences are actually emphatic forms of the normal-order “A can of corned beef is in the cupboard” and “The parade comes.”
From the book English Plain and Simple: No-Nonsense Ways to Learn the Global Language by Jose A. Carillo © 2004 by the author © 2010 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 14, 2011

How the appositive can give life and texture to writing

In a recent posting, a member of Jose Carillo's English Forum asked if there should be a limit to the length of appositives. She posed the question regarding the sentence below, the lead of a recent sports news story, that has an extremely long and structurally convoluted appositive phrase (italics hers):

“Joe Frazier, the son of a South Carolina sharecropper who punched meat in a Philadelphia slaughterhouse before Rocky, won Olympic gold, and beat an undefeated Muhammad Ali to become one of the all-time heavyweight greats, died on Monday, his family said in a statement.

In my reply, I explained that that for clarity’s sake, there should indeed be a limit to the length and grammatical complexity of appositives. Going over that explanation of mine afterwards, however, I realized that I dwelt on appositives without first defining what they are and what their grammatical function is to begin with. I also checked my previous Forum postings over the past two years and discovered that I had hardly touched on appositives in a substantial way; also, in my recollection, hardly anybody had asked a question about them in the Forum during all that time.

Considering the importance of appositives to good writing, this is a major oversight that I now would like to correct. I am therefore posting in this week’s edition of the Forum an essay that I wrote about the subject for my English-usage column in The Manila Times way back in 2003. That essay, “Using appositives for texture and depth,” later formed part of Part II – “English Grammar Revisited” of my book English Plain and Simple. I’m sure that the discussions in that essay will adequately explain and clarify the role of appositives for everyone. (November 13, 2011)  

Using appositives for texture and depth

The problem with most bad writing is that it is often so general and lacking in texture and depth. The people, places, or things used as subjects seem to exist only in two-dimensional space, as in a crude cartoon movie, and the actions described all seem to crowd themselves in just a single timeframe. Hardly are there any telling details to give meat and substance to the bare-boned prose, making the writing invariably dry, bland, uninviting—and unreadable.

An efficient way of giving life and vitality to writing is to use appositives and appositive phrases. An appositive is simply a noun or pronoun that often comes directly after another word in a sentence, putting that word in better context by explaining it or by giving more information about it. An appositive phrase, on the other hand, consists of an appositive and all its modifiers, which maybe single words, phrases, or clauses. Both are powerful tools that allow the writer to identify or explain the nouns or pronouns he uses without having to come up with a new sentence or string of sentences to give the added information. This makes the buildup of ideas smoother, and frees the writing from digressions or asides that can impede its natural flow.

Here are some examples of sentences using appositives, which are indicated in italics: “My office assistant Joanna took the day off yesterday.” “Her husband, the jealous type, took her on an extended out-of-town trip.” “They rode on my friend’s car, a battered 1995 sedan, to a hillside farm in Batangas.” “The popular duo Batman and Robin were my favorite cartoon characters during my teens.” “The two provincial girls, adventurers with only a few hundred pesos between them, took the bus to Manila last night.” “Eduardo, the computer enthusiast and high school junior, helped fix the laptop of his teacher, Mrs. Alicia Santos.” “A positively enchanting singer, Elvira had many admirers at the club where she works.” Note that appositives may also come before the noun or pronoun they refer to; what is important is not to detach and set them apart from the noun or pronoun they modify.

An appositive phrase, of course, is simply an appositive joined by whatever modifiers come with it, as in this example: “Mayon Volcano, a major Philippine tourist attraction because of its majestic near-perfect cone, is found in Albay, a southeastern province in Luzon about 500 kilometers from Manila by land transport.” The first appositive in the sentence is the noun “attraction,” which is modified by the phrases “a major Philippine tourist” and “because of its majestic near-perfect cone.” The second appositive is the word “province,” modified by the phrases “southeastern,” “in Luzon,” and “about 500 kilometers from Manila by land transport.” Appositive phrases, by supplying much more information about the nouns or pronouns they modify, are even more effective than simple appositives in giving texture and depth to writing.

From the examples given above, it should be clear by now that an appositive or appositive phrase may either be essential or nonessential to a sentence. An essential or restrictive appositive narrows the meaning of the word it modifies and is necessary to maintain the meaning of the sentence. It is usually a single word or a set of words closely related to the preceding word, and does not require commas to set it off from the rest of the sentence. See the following examples: “The American actress Meryl Streep has been hailed for her consistently fine acting in a string of memorable films.” (Without “Meryl Streep” as appositive, we will never know the identity of the actress being talked about.) “The extremely popular Philippine president Ramon Magsaysay died in a tragic plane crash in the early 50s.” (Without “Ramon Magsaysay” as appositive, we may never know—unless we do some hard research—who that president was.)

A nonessential or nonrestrictive appositive, on the other hand, is not absolutely necessary to the meaning of a sentence; it may be omitted without altering the basic meaning. (It must be set off from the rest of the sentence by one or two commas, depending on its position in the sentence). Examples: “Alicia’s sister, a Philippine-born doctor, works as a senior anesthesiologist in a large hospital in the U.S. Midwest.” “The ‘Santacruzan,’ a colorful religious festival, is regularly held in many Philippine towns during the month of May.” (We still would know who the doctor is and what the event is even without the appositives “a Philippine doctor” and “a colorful religious festival.”)

Non-essential appositive phrases have the same optional role in sentences, as in this example: “December, usually the coldest month in tropical Philippines, is becoming more popular than June as the wedding month of choice.” We can take out the appositive “usually the coldest month in tropical Philippines” and still get a clear idea of what month it is that more and more Filipinos now prefer to get married.
From the book English Plain and Simple: No-Nonsense Ways to Learn the Global Language by Jose A. Carillo © 2004 by the author © 2010 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The six ways that English reckons with the future

Many of us might find it strange that despite the overwhelming richness and diversity of English as a language, its verbs can’t inflect or change in form for the future tense. By some quirk in the development of the English grammar structures, its verbs can inflect only for the past, present, and perfect tenses. To compensate for this grammatical handicap, however, English came up with no less than six ways of reckoning with the future. These six forms evoke the future by appending to the main verb particular combinations of auxiliary verbs in different tenses, and the choice among these future-tense forms primarily depends on which part of the future is important to us or to those telling us about it. This obviously makes it manyfold more complicated for learners to master the English future tense.

To clarify the differences between these six future-tense forms, I wrote an essay on the subject for my English-usage column in The Manila Times in 2004. That essay subsequently became the introduction to Section 7 – “Mastering the English Tenses” of my book Give Your English the Winning Edge, which devotes nine chapters to an intensive discussion of the various future-tense forms and the adverbs of time. I am now posting that essay here for the benefit of Forum members and guests who’d like to make themselves much more precise and expressive in evoking the future in their written and spoken English. (November 5, 2011)

Though very rich and diverse, English can’t inflect for the future tense

Despite the overwhelming richness of the English language, its verbs have the handicap of not being able to morph by themselves into the future tense. As we all know, they inflect only for the past, present, and perfect tenses. For instance, “give” turns to “gave” in the past tense, “gives” in the present tense, and “given” in the perfect tense; in most cases, in fact, English verbs inflect themselves for the perfect tense in the same way as they do for the past tense, as in “wanted” for both the past and perfect tenses of “want.” Yet when they turn to the future, all of the English verbs can’t do anything to themselves; they simply don’t have the ability to inflect for it.

English verbs never got to internally work out an inflection for the future tense, unlike, say, Tagalog with its future-tense “pupunta” (“will go”) for the infinitive “pagpunta” (“to go”). It’s as if the Angles (the ancient forebears of the English people), too preoccupied perhaps with settling in what is now England after crossing the channel from the European mainland, never found the need or the time to work out the future tense into their verbs.

To compensate for this structural oversight in its verb-building efforts, however, the English language came up with no less than six ways of reckoning with the future. The first two, of course, we already know by heart. They are the simple future tense, which puts the auxiliary verb “will” ahead of the verb stem, as in “will give,” and the future perfect tense, which uses the so-called temporal indicators to situate actions and events in various times in the future, as in the use of the future perfect “will have given” in the following sentence: “By this time tomorrow, she will have given me her answer to my marriage proposal.” In both cases, instead of inflecting itself, the verb “give” took the expedient of harnessing one and two auxiliary verbs, respectively, to make its two visions of the future work.

English then dealt with the future tense even more purposively by coming up with four more grammatical stratagems to express it, in the process making its future tense more complicated than that of some other languages with elaborate future-tense inflections built into their verbs. These future-tense forms and the grammatical structures English developed for them are as follows: the arranged future, also known as the present continuous; the predicted future; the timetable future, also known as the present simple; and the described futures, also known as the future continuous.

All of these forms evoke the future by appending to the main verb particular combinations of auxiliary verbs in different tenses. The choice among these forms depends on which part of the future is important to us or to those telling us about it, and their semantic value lies in the fact that they enable us to make fine distinctions as to whether what will happen is a regular event; as to whether something is unavoidable or prearranged or something we or other people want or wish to happen; as to how long the wait will be until something happens; and as to the degree of certainty that something will happen.

We all know that the future is extremely flexible; in contrast, there’s really nothing we can do to change the past and there’s not really much we can do to alter the evolving present. Unless we are a dyed-in-the-wool believers in determinism and predetermination—both aver that all acts of will or natural occurrences are causally predetermined by preceding events, natural laws, or the divine—we will find many occasions to use the arranged future in our spoken or written prose. The uniquely human ability to plan and shape future events comes into play here.

The arranged future or present continuous means that we have decided what to do but have not yet executed that decision: “We are doing overtime work this coming weekend; client wants the marketing plan first thing on Monday.” “The charming rogue begged on bended knees so I’m pardoning him next month for that act of humility.” “She is leaving with me for my scheduled sabbatical in Rome; all the bookings have already been arranged.”

Note that the arranged future uses the present-tense form of the auxiliary “to be” in tandem with the present participle (“-ing” form) of the verb: “are doing,” “am pardoning,” and “is leaving.” This is the so-called continuous future, which indicates that the future action started when the decision was made and will continue until the moment that the action is finished. To make sure that it doesn’t wrongly convey the idea that the future is happening right now, the arranged future must often use clear temporal indicators, like “this coming weekend,” “next month,” and “my scheduled sabbatical in Rome” in the sentences given as examples in the preceding paragraph.
From the book Give Your English the Winning Edge by Jose A. Carillo © 2009 by the author, © 2010 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Common pitfalls when a pronoun and noun form a compound subject

We will recall that a basic rule in English grammar is that for a combination of a noun or pronoun to properly perform the action of a verb, or for them to jointly act as the compound subject of a sentence, they should both be in the same case, whether subjective or nominative, objective, or possessive. In short, we shouldn’t mix nouns and pronouns in different cases when we want them do a particular grammar function. In practice, however, this is easier said than done. A lot of inadvertent case mixing happens in both spoken and written English due to a lack of familiarity with both pronoun usage and case usage.*

In the essay below that I wrote for my English-usage column in The Manila Times in October 2007, I explain the proper way to form compound subjects with nouns and pronouns, with particular emphasis on tricky situations—a few of them actually debatable—that often trip even professional writers. Keeping the prescriptions of this essay in mind should give you much greater confidence in handling those tricky situations. (October 30, 2011)

The proper way to form compound subjects with nouns and pronouns

A very common pronoun misuse problem occurs when a personal pronoun is joined with a noun or another pronoun by the conjunction “and” or “or” to form a compound subject. Many people, particularly in colloquial speech, tend to use the objective form of the personal pronoun in such constructions: “The president and him are now politically estranged.” “Both the competition and us will suffer because of this trade mess.” “Alicia and me have been close friends since kindergarten.” “You or me need to stay behind.”

No matter how correct-sounding they may seem, such constructions are grammatically incorrect and are likely to incur disapproval from English teachers and discerning employers. The grammar rule to remember here is to always use the subjective or nominative form of the personal pronoun: “The president and he are now politically estranged.” “Both the competition and we will suffer because of this trade mess.” “Alicia and I have been close friends since kindergarten.” “You or I need to stay behind.”

When the personal pronoun is the last element in the compound subject, people will have a stronger tendency to wrongly use its objective form. This is because the construction obscures the grammatical error and makes it sound aboveboard, as in this example given earlier: “The president and him are now politically estranged.” A good preemptive stylistic habit is to make the personal pronoun the first element instead: “He and the president are now politically estranged.” “Both we and the competition will suffer because of this trade mess.” This way, it becomes unmistakably clear that the personal pronoun should be in the subjective form.

In the spirit of modesty, however, we should always make the personal pronoun “I” an exception to this prescription. As we learned early in English grammar, it is good form to make “I” always the last element of the compound subject: “Alicia and I have been close friends since kindergarten.” “You or I need to stay behind.” (It sounds self-serving to use “I” ahead: “I and Alicia have been close friends since kindergarten.” “I or you need to stay behind.”

We’ll look into just three more contentious case usage problems before we close:

(1) Many people will catch themselves saying “This is just between you and I,” “According to you and they, the money was lost in transit,” and “Hardworking people like you and I need a break sometimes.” Some will invoke that even Shakespeare also had done so during his time, but the fact is that a grammar rule outlawing such usage became the English standard in the 1860s onwards. In your formal writing, therefore, you’ll always be grammatically in the right by using the objective form of the personal pronoun instead: “This is just between you and me.” “According to you and them, the money was lost in transit,” and “Hardworking people like you and me need a break sometimes.”

(2) You still can get into a heated grammar debate on whether to say “No one but I saw that controversial movie” or “No one but me saw that controversial movie,” or to say “No one except I came for the meeting” or “No one except me came for the meeting.” But in such constructions, good grammar will be on your side when you use the objective form of the personal pronoun: “No one but me saw that controversial movie.” “No one except me came for the meeting.”

(3) When using personal pronouns after forms of the verb “be,” do we say “That must be her on the escalator” (objective “her”) or “That must be she on the escalator” (nominative “she”)? Using the objective case may sound more natural than the nominative case, but you’re well advised to limit it to conversational use. Although the nominative case may sound pedantic, it is the grammatically acceptable choice in formal writing: “That must be she on the escalator.” (October 20, 2007)
From the weekly column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in The Manila Times, October 20, 2007 © 2007 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.
*When combining pronouns with nouns, it’s very important to remember that it’s not only pronouns that have case. As we learn early in English grammar, pronouns in general inflect or change form in the nominative or subjective case, objective case, and possessive. Nouns also have case like pronouns, but the big difference between them is that nouns remain in the same form—they don’t  inflect at all—in the subjective, nominative, and objective cases. Only in the possessive case do nouns inflect by adding the apostrophe-s at their tail ends; for example, “That laptop is Alicia’s.”

So, when forming a compound subject with a noun and pronoun, keep in mind that they should both be in the same case, except that the noun doesn’t inflect at all and remains as is except in the possessive form. When compounding a pronoun and another pronoun, of course, we must make sure that both are in the same case, based on their correct inflected forms for that case.

For a comprehensive review of case usage and the English Pronoun Chart, click this link to “Lesson #3 – The Matter of Case in English” in the Forum.