February 5, 2017

"In this case death just sat on the grass and wished he was a kid again."

Sweet rewrite of: "Sometimes death is busy and just says, 'Fuck it, I'll get them next time.'"

43 comments:

Ann Althouse said...

As someone who has experienced attacks of vertigo, just watching that video revived forgotten nausea.

David said...

Mistakes have consequences. Sometimes.

Bob Ellison said...

That's a great video and a great sentence. Thanks for the link.

jimbino said...

Death, having long since learned to communicate in proper English, would have sat on the grass and wished he were a kid again.

MathMom said...

This is testosterone in action. Some might call it testosterone poisoning. But without testosterone, man would not have walked on the moon.

Laslo Spatula said...

Looks more effective than waterboarding.

And more fun.

I expect these comments to fill with men's fond reminiscences of boyhood stunts that fell just short of disaster.

Of course, there is always that one guy who tells his story by slowly typing with his only moving finger.

I am Laslo.

Bad Lieutenant said...

jimbino said...
Death, having long since learned to communicate in proper English, would have sat on the grass and wished he were a kid again.
2/5/17, 7:53 AM


j, I usually avoid you because you are a distinctive combination of rabid and boring, but in this case I believe you are mistaken.

Bob Ellison said...

"Wished he was" is correct. This is not subjunctive case.

Laslo Spatula said...

I once did something like that, but it involved cocaine and hookers.

I am Laslo.

Curious George said...

"MathMom said...
This is testosterone in action. Some might call it testosterone poisoning. But without testosterone, man would not have walked on the moon."

Or the earth.

gspencer said...

Eat well.

Stay fit.

Die anyway.

Ralph Stanley (1927-2016), O Death,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xmRWj7gJEU

Goddess of the Classroom said...

Yes, it the subjunctive case. Death is not, in fact, a kid, and wishes he were (again).
Of course, this presumes we're accepting the personification of Death and that he was once a kid.
Mental pictures; hilarity ensues.

Bob Ellison said...

This is interesting, but only to nerds like us.

It's not subjunctive, because Death is not positing a hypothetical. He's making a wish, a demand of sorts. I wished I was seven feet tall once, because then I could have dunked a basketball. I wished I was Superman.

If I wished strawberries were a year-round fruit, then I'd be all subjunctive.

Ann Althouse said...

"I wished I was seven feet tall once, because then I could have dunked a basketball."

You put "wish" in the past tense. I don't even want to think about what the right crack up of verbs is supposed to be. The good writing advice is rewrite the whole thing.

Goddess of the Classroom said...

Wishes for something contrary to fact or possibility correctly take the subjunctive.

"I wish I were an Oscar Meyer weiner..."

Bob Ellison said...

Ann Althouse said, "The good writing advice is rewrite the whole thing."

That should go in Strunk and White.

But it's a problem, when you realize you're spinning an idea, and you're three independent clauses in, and you think "hey, maybe a period or at least a semicolon back there or a paragraph break could've helped, but I really need some more coffee, and we're out of eggs". Get me re-write!

Subjunctive case in English is kind of silly. We don't really use it. It's like the split-infinitive rule. Something important to Latin, but not to English. And I can't stand sentences that begin with conjunctions!

Bob Ellison said...

Goddess of the Classroom, you make a good argument.

I wonder what a genie goes through.

You've got three wishes!

OK, first, I wish I could turn lead into gold.

Well, you said "could", so I'm not really sure that's a wish.

I wish I can turn lead into gold!

Got it. Here you go.

Ann Althouse said...

""I wish I were an Oscar Meyer weiner..."

Wiener.

Birkel said...

Whiner?

Paco Wové said...

Some think of grammar, some think of centrifugal force.

Fernandinande said...

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Original Mike said...

"Some think of grammar, some think of centrifugal force."

Since centrifugal force is not a real force, I believe the subjunctive case is required here.

mockturtle said...

Looks like fun--the kind of reckless fun we had when we were young enough to deny the concept of mortality.

Bad Lieutenant said...

I wish I were in Dixie, hooray, hooray? Remember 200 years ago they knew how to speak English.

Dr Weevil said...

Looks like it's time for some pedantry!

Subjunctive is a mood, not a case. The other two, in Latin and English, are imperative (commands) and indicative (statements - by far the most used of the three in English). Greek also has an optative, but I have trouble remembering when to use the subjunctive and when to use the optative.

Only verbs have moods, only pronouns (and in Latin, nouns and adjectives) have cases. These show whether the pronoun (or whatever) is subject, object, or (in some languages, including Latin, German, and Russian, but not Spanish or French) things like possession, indirect object, direct address, etc. Only five or six English pronouns actually have cases, and they have only two: subject (nominative in Latin) and object (accusative in Latin). The words are I/me, he/her, she/him, we/us, they/them, and (the reason I said "five or six", because who uses "whom" these days?), who/whom.

You have now received far more than your minimal daily required dosage of Vitamin P (for Pedantry).

Paco Wové said...

"centrifugal force is not a real force"

Althouse: home of grammar pedants and physics pedants!

mockturtle said...

I expect these comments to fill with men's fond reminiscences of boyhood stunts that fell just short of disaster.

Of course, there is always that one guy who tells his story by slowly typing with his only moving finger.


Good one, Laslo!

Original Mike said...

"Of course, there is always that one guy who tells his story by slowly typing with his only moving finger."

And then there's the guy who's not here.

Moondawggie said...

"centrifugal force is not a real force"

Bet you can't say the same for centripetal acceleration...

William said...

Where did the concept that death is some kind of responsible adult originate? Perhaps that Bergman film The Seventh Seal. Death, as I have known him, is far more childish and impulsive than those kids on the merry go round.

JPS said...

Original Mike,

"Since centrifugal force is not a real force,"

Point taken, but try telling that to the kid in the blue shirt.

Yancey Ward said...

I think Jimbino is correct- this is past subjunctive. I would even go so far as to put "that" into the sentence in order to make it clear.

Death, having long since learned to communicate in proper English, would have sat on the grass and wished that he were a kid again.

It astonishes me, still, how we seem to do a lot of this without thinking about it at all.

David said...

When adults do stupid stuff the death toll can mount to millions. With kids it's onesies and twosies.

eddie willers said...

Little boy sat down and cry.
Old man stopped to ask him "why?".
He said, "I can't do what the big boys do".
Old man sat down and he cry too.

jimbino said...

I wish I were a kid again.
I wished I had been a kid again.

I wish I was a kid again and
I wished I was a kid again are bad English.

boycat said...

Inasmuch as it doesn't change the meaning regardless of which word is used, the point is clearly made with either, and clarity in communication being the objective of grammar, any debate about this usage is strictly for pedants to strut their stuff.

Twelve Kanaw said...

....And some speak of cenrtipetal force plus inertia. No one likes those people.

urbane legend said...

Curious George said...
"MathMom said...
But without testosterone, man would not have walked on the moon."

Or the earth.


Women can walk. Testosterone must not have much to do with it.

urbane legend said...

Dr Weevil said...
Subjunctive is a mood, not a case.


Remember that, guys, next time you are walking on the moon and she says, " I'm not in the subjunctive. "

Craig Howard said...

"Wished he was" is correct. This is not subjunctive case.

No. It's contrary to fact. Definitely subjunctive.

Nonetheless, a great video. Would that I were that age again.

Jon Ericson said...

It is truly meet, right, and salutary.

Quaestor said...

Roughly 4 G's by my calculation. Enough to hurt you.

The drip who allowed himself to be thrown off the carousel deserved the hurt.

Jon Ericson said...

Here we go loopty-loop