[Ads-l] =?UTF-8?Q?=E2=80=9CThey_didn=E2=80=99t_?=investigate . . .

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Sep 23 18:09:39 UTC 2015


what were the underlying forces."

Quoted in Friedman's NYT article.

http://goo.gl/4TK0uK


When I was learning "proper English," back in 1944-1954, the string,

_they didn't investigate what were the underlying forces_,

was defined as a "compound sentence" consisting of a "statement," _they
didn't investigate_, and an "embedded question," _what were the underlying
forces?_. The form that the combined sentences took was,

"They didn't investigate what the underlying forces were."

There were people who ignored the inversion in their speech, of course.
But, I didn't give that any conscious consideration till Labov observed
that lack of inversion in sentences of this class was a feature of BE and I
realized that this observation was totally accurate. However, it seems to
me that *all* speakers/writers of *any* variety of American English -
except me - ceased to follow this "rule" about 45 years ago.

I haven't made the least effort to keep up with the literature, needless to
say. Nevertheless, I'm still going to say that, AFAIK, nothing has been
written about this change.

-- 
-Wilson
-----
All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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