Friday, December 19, 2014

This is why our "discussion" is so frustrating

Listen, Skeezix.

After going several rounds with you on Twitter/Facebook/wherever-we-were, it's clear that I am punching far below my weight.

This is what our convo feels like from my perspective:


[dicentra]: I wouldn't do that if I were you.

[you]: It's not "I were." It's "I was."

[dicentra]: Actually, "I were" is correct in that context.

[you]: Do you also say "I were at the party?" What about "I were sad today" or "I were going to the store yesterday?"

[dicentra]: I'm using the subjunctive because the second phrase contains the conditional tense.

[you]: Oh sure! All that fancy palaver is just there to obscure your ignorance.

[dicentra]: Seriously, this is an example of the subjunctive in English.

[you]: It's "I was, you were, he/she/it was, we were, they were."

[dicentra]: Unless it's describing a hypothetical situation, followed by the conditional tense. Then it's "I were." I can also say, "If he were here, he wouldn't do that."

[you]: Do you even speak English? I bet you also say, "They come over last night but I wish they hadn't came."

[dicentra]: That's a common inversion in rural dialects…

[you]: So is "I were."

[dicentra]: No, just in northern England for the imperfect past. Look, I'm a professional writer. I speak Spanish and I've studied Romance philology. I know how the subjunctive works.

[you]: News flash, moron. English isn't a Romance language.

[dicentra]: And yet the subjunctive exists in English. We just don't identify it as such very often because there's no distinct subjunctive verb form like in the Romance languages.

[you]: Damn, you're obtuse. Repeat after me, "I was, you were, he/she/it was, we are, they are."

[dicentra]: You're arguing from a smaller, less-sophisticated knowledge base than I am. This is going nowhere.

[you]: You can't just make stuff up to justify your poor grammar skills and call it sophistication. You've gotta be the worst writer on the planet.

[dicentra]: (headdesk)


See that? Because you've never heard of the subjunctive, my using it sounds like bad grammar to you, and then my explanation sounds like I'm making stuff up to justify my bad grammar.

You keep repeating those present-tense conjugations as if I didn't understand them, but I understand them perfectly well — better than you do, in fact, but because you aren't familiar with the subjunctive, it's easy (too easy) for you to conclude that I'm the moron.

Try this for yourself: write -7 + 9 = 2 on a piece of paper and show it to a 2nd grader. Now see if you can explain how you can add a seven and a nine and get two.

Chances are the kid will eventually get it, but then the kid isn't invested in the fact that you're an evil ignoramus, the way you are with me, so the kid is open to new information.

You don't seem to be, which is sad, because there's lots of stuff out there (including new perspectives) that are far more interesting than our little spat, and yet you'll go away from our convo convinced that me and mine are exactly as awful as you originally thought.

Nice work if you can get it, I guess. Saves the actual work of learning about the people you hate.


dicentra63 said...

Pursuant to this thread:

Ed said...

Don't bother playing chess with a pigeon.

Mark Flacy said...

German isn't a Romance language either, and it most certainly has a subjunctive tense.

Ed's comment pretty much sums it up, I think.

dicentra63 said...

Well, yes, I always know how it will end with the pigeon.

However, I enjoy this kind of sparring because it improves my arguments. They always come up with stuff I'd never imagine was on their minds, and it's important for me to know what they're thinking.

Furthermore, refutations must be made. Rove's advice to Bush to not refute the Left's lies about the Iraq War is partly responsible for Obama.

I get frustrated with these people but if I couldn't get into it with them I'd go absolutely nutz.