Do be do be do

Carl.Mills at UC.EDU Carl.Mills at UC.EDU
Fri Apr 18 14:15:59 UTC 1997

Contrary to Chris Johns' intuitions

>      You be good for Grandma, now, and if you do / ??*are I'll buy you
an ice-cream cone.

sounds perfectly normal to me.  In fact, I think I have heard such
sentences in my native (Oregon/Washington) dialect many times.

To add anecdote to example sentences, when my elder daughter was 2 or 3,
I yelled at her


to which she replied

                   I'm BEing have!

Pinker reports "I am have!" as a variant of this.

I am not sure what this proves vis-a-vis the adult grammar of _be_, but
I suspect that it indicates a difference in the syntax and semantics of
_be_ as a main verb versus _be_ as auxiliary.


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