Tom Payne tpayne at OREGON.UOREGON.EDU
Sun Apr 6 02:57:49 UTC 1997

> -----Original Message-----
> Hi,
> I came across the following problem on another list. The poster asked
> whether it is possible to order something/ someone to exist as in the
> following phrase:
>     "Be my love".
> In my opinion the form "be" in the above phrase is a subjunctive and
> expresses a wish rather than a command and not a command or
> imperative. The phrase is not structurally different
> from a command like "Be quiet" or "Be seated" What is the
> function of "be" in this phrase?
> Regards
> David Gerard.

First, I don't think "Be my love" is commanding someone/something to
"exist." It is a command for someone to take on a certain role. I see
this as quite analogous to "be quiet" or "be seated."

Second, there is an interesting "misuse" of "be" that I have heard, that
makes sense at some level. Here is an example:

"He's not crazy, he just _bees_ crazy when he's around girls."

IOW, he just acts crazy. This is an actual example that went totally
unnoticed by the non-linguists in the conversation.

I think I've heard others like this. Anyone else? If it has the
validational force of downplaying the reality of the assertion, it might
be thought of as in the same functional domain as a subjunctive.

I'd be interested in other opinions on this.
Thomas E. Payne, Department of Linguistics, University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403, USA
Voice: 541 342-6706. Fax:   541 346-3917

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