Evolving subjunctive

Charles Wells charles at FREUDE.COM
Thu Jun 6 12:44:38 UTC 2002

Sportcasterese has come up with several innovations this list should
notice.  They avoid the past perfect as noted in this message; they are
using something like the historical present but only when it is past!  In
other words, right after it happened, they would say:  "He stopped at
second" -- not using the historical present.  But later during analysis
they would say "If he doesn't stop, he's out," as if they were using the
historical present.  I have heard this sort of thing only from
sportcasters.  They also say "may" for "might" but that is common use by
many (mostly young?) people.

Sportcasters also use an analytic possessive a lot.  "It bounced of the
glove of Lofton" rather than "It bounced off Lofton's glove".  It appears
to my introspection that generating the second sentence requires an extra
transformation, whereas the first sentence is closer to the abstract
structure behind the sentence.  This is something that could probably be
tested, but I can't think how.

--Charles Wells

>Skip Carey (son of Harry) is one of the radio/tv  announcers for the
>Atlanta Braves.  When there are two outs and he announces the batter on
>deck, he says, "Chipper [e.g.] would be next."  Is this a new use for the
>subjunctive?  For Cubs fans, did he get it from his father?
>On the other hand, he will also say, for example, "If he doesn't stop, he's
>out," when one would expect "If he hadn't stopped, he would have been
>out."  Are these unique to him?

Charles Wells
professional website: http://www.cwru.edu/artsci/math/wells/home.html
personal website: http://www.oberlin.net/~cwells/index.html
genealogical website:
NE Ohio Sacred Harp website: http://www.oberlin.net/~cwells/sh.htm

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