English Subjunctive: what is it?
I read in "grammarly" ( http://www.grammarly.com/blog/2016/english-subjunctive-what-is-it/?utm_source=grammarly_medium=email_campaign=BlogNL_content=NL_013016) : "Remember the rap song “I Wish” from the 90s? Skee-Lo says, “I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller.” Saying “I wish I was” is correct, right? It’s not. To express his wishes, Skee-Lo should’ve used the subjunctive mood: “I wish I were a little bit taller, I wish I were a baller.” (Nevertheless, that song earned Skee-Lo a Grammy nomination.)" So, it seems that also not fully uneducated people do not know a complete "mood" of their verbs. Is this the situation in GB or USA (I don't know where these rappers come from)? Or is "grammarly" too rigid? I'd like to have comment either from British and American contributors. Thanks a lot!
I don't think rappers, or any other type of singer, are too concerned about the grammar of the lyrics. It is more to do with how they fit in with the music than correct English.
Thanks! For what I can understand, I have to delete "not fully".... But at least the "Oscar for the cinema's world Grammy" (by the way with an "m" added to its initial "Gramophone Award") should pay attention to the gramar... sorry "grammar"!
This is a VERY common error in US (and Canada, where I am)--my guess is that more people don't use it than do. A rapper would probably be considered pretentious if he were to use it! (In fact, "if he used it" is the usual way to say that.) I suppose a few consider the subjunctive a signifier of educational level, but more accurately I think it has become a signifier of background, interests, and ability to speak the language appropriate to certain situations. We use it because our educated families used it and so did the authors we loved. Or we use it and ask advanced students to use it because it is the language of higher education. In short, it IS still the standard but it is apparently on its slow way out.... If it becomes a habit with you, beato te--but North Americans won't care.
I sadly, fully, agree. The same thing is happening in my Country. I wrote here to a kind follower that a language, as I deeply believe, does not belong to us: we can use it we cannot spoil it. It belongs to the Story of our country, to people that made great our nation, to our entire civilisation. In this case, it could be that this rapper deliberately used a wrong tense, because he felt that a high language was not appropriate to his fans. Moreover, Grammy agreed. Thank you Mrs. callsharon. You have an enviable capacity to grasp the hearth of matters.
It's just to make the song sound better or fit a certain style. Grammar rules are often ignored in English songs. They do not represent what is spoken. Especially modern songs they make little sense or they are interpretive. Artists are often asked what their songs mean and they usually cannot explain them.
Thanks. You are right but... young people don't sing or hear OLD songs... , they sing and hear these ones, so the disruptive action of these mistakes (in songs, TV, newspapers, etc) is easily incisive for what is, eventually, spoken. So, we spend money for sending our sons at school, and after we spend money for buying songs that destroy what they have learned at school.... I think that at Stone Age's time they were smarter! I read (if you like I can find the link) that one of the most frequent English mistake is to write it's instead of its.... and here the poor rapper has no blame.
I'm just going to jump in on this discussion. I guess we have to remember that languages are constantly evolving and vocabulary and rules gradually change with every generation. Mistakes that are frequently repeated eventually become the new rules. Undoubtedly, English will change faster than many other languages as it is spoken by so many people worldwide, especially as a second or third language. In this way, English is butchered on a daily basis. Some of this is going to stick. After all, Latin became many different languages over time. Since every language brings its own unique vocabulary, change is not necessarily a bad thing.
Latin said: "tot capita, tot sententiae": statements are so many as the heads (persons). My (of course) personal point of view is that if we can spoil ( you would say "change") the language when and how we like, we should delete the grammar school and introduce the "bad grammar school", just to learn what will be the language of the future. "Undoubtedly, English will change faster than many other languages as it is spoken by so many people worldwide". There is an adverb missing: "as it is BADLY spoken by so many people" (and surely I am a good example). In my country dialects are going to have a revival that has only one explanation: they don't have to be studied (they are the "language" of a semi-literate mother) they should study the language. Also a body can be "changed", but is a matter for plastic surgery, not for butchers.
Well, that's flattering! I don't think language is being spoiled though. Probably the real heart of the matter is that language changes. And also that language always has different levels or different dialects, and what becomes the norm maybe tells us more about "who won the war" or "who ran the schools" than it does about language clarity and vitality. If Skee-Lo can make the language dance, that's a good thing. ("I wish I was" will continue to be what people say, but I'm hoping that replacing "many" with the bureaucratic but grammatical "multiple" will die out soon!)
Dear Callsharon, sometimes from awful things something remains. You know that my language comes from Latin. Well: your liver was the neuter Latin iécur. At those times, this part of our body was not important, at least as the stuffed geese’s liver with figs, in Latin “iécur ficàtum”. Just to “spare time” (as we say), the Roman housewives used to go to the butcher to ask “ficatum” and from ficatum the Italian “fégato” arrived. Fegato has also another particularity: it is the only Italian word that cannot be put into rhyme.