Monday, July 11, 2016

English is weirder than most people realize

OK, so I just encountered this on Facebook, representative of the many "English is weird" memes floating around out there. And as I nearly always point out, the spellings shown here have nothing to do with the English language itself. If you want weird, consider this:
To make an English statement into a question, one of the rules is to "move the auxiliary to the front of the sentence."* E.g.
The mouse is eating the cheese > Is the mouse eating the cheese?
But what if there's no (apparent) auxiliary? Then you have to create one and move it:
Mice eat cheese > Mice do eat cheese > Do mice eat cheese?
Wait, there's more. If an overt inflection is present on the verb, the created auxiliary strips it off the verb and attaches it to itself:
Judy walks to school > Judy do walks to school > Judy does walk to school > Does Judy walk to school?
That's something truly weird about English!

* It's not that simple. The Aux really moves to a position under C in the CP that dominates the sentence. But this is enough for one day.