Matthew S Dryer dryer at ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU
Sun Apr 6 05:14:38 UTC 1997

Tom Payne notes the use of nonstandard "bees" in

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

My eldest son consistently treated "be" as a regular verb (I be, he/she
bees, I beed, etc.) distinct from the irregular verb "be" with predicates
like "quiet" and "a good boy" until he was at least four years old, and I
have occasionally heard adults, including myself (just yesterday in fact),
do similarly.  I assumed with my son that this was because during his
first few years, he heard the base form "be" in other contexts
sufficiently infrequently that he did not know that "be" was a form of the
verb "am, are, is, was were", while he often heard the form "be" in
imperative sentences with "volitional" predicates like "quiet" and "a good
boy" and heard forms like "is" and "are" sufficiently infrequently with
such predicates, that he assumed that "be" was a distinct verb with a
volitional meaning, something like "cause oneself to be", or vaguely like
"act" (cf. "he just acts crazy when he's around girls").  I do not know if
such usage is common among children, but if it is not uncommon, I suspect
that it occasionally makes its way into adult usage as well.

For these reasons, I am skeptical of Tom's suggestion "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."  Rather,
for some speakers, to at least some extent, there is a distinct regular
verb "be".

Has this phenomenon been discussed in the literature at all?

Matthew Dryer

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