[Ads-l] =?UTF-8?Q?=E2=80=9CWhat_am_I_wanting_to_illustrate=3F=E2=80=9D_?=(Barry Neil Kaufman in "To Love Is to Be Happy With")

Stanton McCandlish smccandlish at GMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 30 11:24:59 EDT 2019


That* [to be]+[other verb] *construction is standard grammar in some
languages for various purposes, so I would suspect it's a loan construction
(possibly a multigenrrational one, turned regional or subcultural idiom)
when it appears habitually in someone's English. I hear it pretty
frequently from various South Asian ESL learners. Maybe it also shows up in
some European languages.

I'm reminded of how various Hiberno-English oddities ("She's me wife she
is", "I'm after putting it on the table already", "Look at your man over
there", etc.) can be traced directly to Irish Gaelic constructions.
Similarly, English is picking up "allows to [something]", with no actor
referent, from German and maybe some other Germanic languages, and *also* from
some South and Southeast Asian languages, simultaneously (the main vector
is technical documentation, for both groups).

Anyway, I think that in a psychological context, "they're wanting to" is
actually a bit nuanced, descriptive of an externally perceived and
changeable state rather than assertive in a *faux*-omnicient way of an
internal personal truth or condition.  A common everyday-vernacular example
would be along the lines of "She was being disruptive", which is a very
different statement from "She is disruptive."

Kaufman's examples may stand out ("may be standing out"?) as strange just
for not being common collocations nor having any clarification or narrowing
purpose, in most cases, that would be clear except to the author and maybe
to some specialized audience.


On Sat, Aug 24, 2019, 8:18 AM Federico Escobar <
federicoescobarcordoba at gmail.com> wrote:

> Barry Neil Kaufman is the author of several books and of Son-Rise and
> Option Process fame. One of his first books is "To Love Is to Be Happy
> With" (Fawcett, 1977). The book's "About the author" page says he was "born
> and raised in New York City."
>
> This book deploys a construction that gives me pause each time. It's a
> combination of a be verb and a verb with an -ing ending that I would have
> phrased differently. I have read other, later books by the author and I
> didn't notice this. It's likely copy editors expunged it (or the author
> dropped it).
>
> Here are a few examples from the first hundred pages of the book:
> — “Some of us might also be believing that if we didn’t get upset, we would
> somehow be callous and ‘inhuman’” (p. 35).
> — “others are also doing the best they can, the best they know how, based
> on their current beliefs… they’re wanting to be happier, wanting to be more
> loving” (p. 38).
> — “you’re saying he’s not knowing what is best” (p. 54).
> — “What are you wanting?” (p. 54).
> — “What am I wanting to illustrate?” (p. 59).
> — “A parent often makes judgments about what’s best for the child because
> the parent is believing that the child would not choose what’s best for
> himself” (p. 67).
> — “isn’t that what I was wanting for him in the first place?” (p. 71).
> — “And when I am wanting to do that, the process is beautiful… not painful”
> (p. 100).
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>

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


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