and speaking of English "subjunctives"...

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Nov 9 00:29:50 UTC 2013

Well, we were at one point, although I can't quite recall when.

So here's a new construction that might or might not be dialectally restricted (to NYT movie reviewer English), featuring subjunctive agreement.

>From Jeannette Catsoulis's review of "Thor", which looks like a must-miss action movie "repacking a Norse god as an alien superhero",

After wielding one commonplace irrealis subjunctive, "If only Thor himself were more of a wag.", Ms. Catsoulis gets a bit carried away:

What few jokes there are belong to Chris O’Dowd, as Jane’s clueless suitor, and the incomparable Tom Hiddleston, whose value here cannot be overstated. As the debonair flyboy in Terence Davies’s “The Deep Blue Sea,” he gave that scoundrel a heartbreaking fragility, and some of that carries over to complicate his portrayal of Loki, Thor’s scheming brother. Dancing above a leaden plot and lumpy dialogue, Mr. Hiddleston moves his fine-boned features and graceful body, as if what he were doing matters; he seems imported from a quite different movie.

Yup, "as if what he were doing matters", presumably derived from "as if what he was doing mattered" via, well, you name it.


The American Dialect Society -

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