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Poor grammar in lyrics

Gallus Moll 24 May 10 - 09:01 AM
GUEST,Callie 24 May 10 - 08:53 AM
Jason Xion Wang 24 May 10 - 08:42 AM
Marje 24 May 10 - 08:32 AM
GUEST,MC Fat (at work) 24 May 10 - 07:31 AM
GUEST,Amn't I? 24 May 10 - 05:11 AM
Marje 24 May 10 - 04:41 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 May 10 - 05:39 PM
Tootler 23 May 10 - 05:07 PM
PHJim 22 May 10 - 04:40 PM
Jason Xion Wang 22 May 10 - 11:40 AM
Genie 08 Mar 10 - 02:34 AM
Jim Dixon 08 Mar 10 - 01:15 AM
Artful Codger 07 Mar 10 - 10:30 PM
Jim Dixon 07 Mar 10 - 07:50 PM
Tattie Bogle 07 Mar 10 - 07:50 PM
Jim Dixon 07 Mar 10 - 07:29 PM
Artful Codger 05 Mar 10 - 11:41 PM
PoppaGator 05 Mar 10 - 06:12 PM
semi-submersible 05 Mar 10 - 05:02 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 05 Mar 10 - 03:01 PM
Richard Bridge 05 Mar 10 - 02:31 PM
mayomick 05 Mar 10 - 01:29 PM
Mavis Enderby 05 Mar 10 - 01:28 PM
Artful Codger 05 Mar 10 - 01:04 PM
Robo 05 Mar 10 - 11:53 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 05 Mar 10 - 09:05 AM
melodeonboy 05 Mar 10 - 06:49 AM
Dave MacKenzie 05 Mar 10 - 04:20 AM
Howard Jones 05 Mar 10 - 04:03 AM
Richard Mellish 05 Mar 10 - 04:01 AM
Bupkes 04 Mar 10 - 11:08 PM
Artful Codger 04 Mar 10 - 10:58 PM
Uncle_DaveO 04 Mar 10 - 09:29 PM
Genie 04 Mar 10 - 08:35 PM
Genie 04 Mar 10 - 08:22 PM
olddude 04 Mar 10 - 07:53 PM
Dave MacKenzie 04 Mar 10 - 07:27 PM
Howard Jones 04 Mar 10 - 07:04 PM
Dave MacKenzie 04 Mar 10 - 06:59 PM
Suegorgeous 04 Mar 10 - 06:50 PM
PoppaGator 04 Mar 10 - 04:42 PM
Bupkes 04 Mar 10 - 03:08 PM
GUEST,mayomick 04 Mar 10 - 02:49 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 04 Mar 10 - 02:43 PM
Nigel Parsons 04 Mar 10 - 11:49 AM
Uncle_DaveO 04 Mar 10 - 11:23 AM
GUEST,Gail 04 Mar 10 - 11:02 AM
Mr Happy 04 Mar 10 - 10:55 AM
Matt Seattle 04 Mar 10 - 10:41 AM
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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Gallus Moll
Date: 24 May 10 - 09:01 AM

West of Scotland:

I am so = I am    = am
                  
I am not = I am not = am not = amn't OR amny/umny which then becomes

umurny OR no amurny

In school children of all backgrounds always ask ' has the bell went' and the teachers reply 'yes it has gone' or 'yes it has rung'

- I was appalled to see an earlier post suggesting that 'saw' should rhyme with 'door' - the addition of an 'r' to words like law, saw etc. really grates on Scottish ears!


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: GUEST,Callie
Date: 24 May 10 - 08:53 AM

according to my ears (and the album liner), it's this:

But in this ever changing world in which we live, it
makes you give in and cry


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Jason Xion Wang
Date: 24 May 10 - 08:42 AM

What a clever answer, Marje... Looking up for that usage on internet dictionaries...


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Marje
Date: 24 May 10 - 08:32 AM

Well if you're going to Carolina in your mind, chances are that you're American, ain't you? But I'm British, amn't I?

Marje


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: GUEST,MC Fat (at work)
Date: 24 May 10 - 07:31 AM

Being frae West Central Scotland I too find myself saying 'Amn't I' on occassions.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: GUEST,Amn't I?
Date: 24 May 10 - 05:11 AM

No amn't I! "The sky is on fire, I'm dying, ain't I, I'm going to Carolina in my mind!"


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Marje
Date: 24 May 10 - 04:41 AM

Just stumpled on to this thread, and just for the record: I grew up in a Scottish family in Northern Ireland,where "amn't" was common among both Scottish and Irish speakers, particuarly in the interrogative "amn't I?". In other contexts you could substitute "I'm not" for "I amn't", but when you turn it round for the interrogative, it was always "amn't I?"

When I came over to England as a student, my friends mocked me for saying "amn't I", and insisted that I should say "aren't I". I protested that no one would say "I are" or "I aren't", or "are I?", and that "aren't I?" was illogical and ungrammatical. I have tried to stick to my guns, but I still don't often hear "amn't" in England.

It's not something I would defend to the death - the verb "to be" and all its parts are probably more subject to dialectical variants than any other words. I just feel irritated, even now, that others should have tried to "correct" my usage, which was logically and gramatically flawless even if they didn't like the sound of it.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 May 10 - 05:39 PM

If Dylan had been worried about this kind of thing, he could of course have written:

"It ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe
A light I never saw
An' it ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe
I'm on the wrong side of your door"


But he wasn't, and quite right.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Tootler
Date: 23 May 10 - 05:07 PM

It ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe
A light I never knew
An' it ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe
I'm on the dark side of the avenue!!


Yuk!


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: PHJim
Date: 22 May 10 - 04:40 PM

Now do I be a fair young country boy
Me father came from Fareham.
He had another six just like I;
By Christ, how he could rare 'em.
Now, do me mum make dumplings nice
I bet you'd like to try 'em.
I've yet to find me a better one,
A country boy like I am.

For I can drive a plow and milk a cow;
I can reap and mow.
I'm as fresh as a daisy that grows in the field,
And they calls I "Buttercup Joe."

I have no complaints with Buttercup Joe, but I still hate the line from the Olympic song.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Jason Xion Wang
Date: 22 May 10 - 11:40 AM

Hi Everybody...

I myself do not use English as the first language... I'm a Chinese.

I was quite puzzled when I first heard "Let me lay down beside you" (It was twelve years ago). I looked up the dictionary and found nothing about that usage...

Later on I became a John Devner fan, I started to realize that use "lay" to replace "lie" is only to make the lyrics sound better, and has nothing to do with the grammar.

Actually, I think that Denver used "lie" and "lay" right on most occasions, such as:

"There are lovers who lie unafraid in the dark..." (Shanghai Breezes)

"Lie there by the fire and watch the evening tire..." (Poems, Prayers and Promises)

"Then to lay me down and love lady's chains..." (I'd Rather Be a Cowboy)


Lines like this one use lay" because it's used in past tense IMO:

"I lay in my bed and I wondered after all has been said and is done for..." (On the Wings of a Dream)

As to "knowed" used by Bob Dylan, I think it's only a poetic usage to make a rhyme. Dylan is a great poet.

Anyway, this is just my own opinion, an opinion from a foreigner!

Take care...

Jason


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Genie
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 02:34 AM

Robo, some lyricists should have their poetic licences revoked!

I agree with you, Richard (and others) - slang and dialect are fine in song and perfect grammar is neither required nor the hallmark of great poetry/lyrics, but when bad grammar seems to reflect sheer laziness or lack of imagination on the part of the writer - and does not reflect any commonly accepted usage, even in slang or dialect, it can be grating.   Just as some word usage we may hear on the street can be grating.

Dylan's use of "knowed" in a song with a hook that starts with "Ain't" seems quite natural to me; it fits in fine with the language style of the song. Ogden Nash's deliberate neologisms and mangling of language are meant as humor and, as such, not offensive (though the puns may be groan-inducing). Diamond's use of "brang" in the otherwise grammatically perfect "Play Me" is something I find grating.
"Last Saturday night I got married; me and my wife settled down" does not bother me because of the song "Goodnight, Irene" is pretty much in dialect throughout. Even the county music tendency of using "lay" to mean "lie" doesn't bother me much, because that's become common usage.   And "It's me, it's me, O Lord, standin' in the need of prayer" seems natural to me. But "Open up your morning light, say a little prayer for I" (Paula Cole: "I Don't Want To Wait") is like chalk on a blackboard (especially since several of the parallel couplets in her lyrics do not rhyme).   I would suspend her poetic license for that flagrant foul! ; D


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 01:15 AM

No, I don't think Dylan was trying to emulate 18th century speech. It only illustrates that "knowed" was recognized by writers as dialect speech as early as the 18th century.

Furthermore, I think that neither Dylan nor the 18th-century writers used "knowed" only because they didn't know any better. They were consciously using it to depict characters who spoke that way habitually.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Artful Codger
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 10:30 PM

So was Dylan trying to emulate 1700s speech, or is that just pointless information? ;-}


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 07:50 PM

My friend, I don't know whether you knowed it or not, but there was a child of Rip,— Meenie her name was.
—from "Rip Van Winkle" as played by Joseph Jefferson, in Representative American Plays by Arthur Hobson Quinn (1765)

As I knowed I dursted not look into your Honner's fase, if I had not found out my Lady, thoff she was gone off the prem's in a quarter of an hour, as a man may say; so I knowed you would be glad at heart to know I had found her out: and so I send thiss Petur Partrick, who is to have 5 shillins, it being now near twelve of the clock at nite; for he would not stur without a hearty drinck too besides: and I was willing all shulde be snug likeways at the logins before I sent.
—from Clarissa, or, The History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson (1768)


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 07:50 PM

Common usage in my part of Scotland (Lothians) is a variation in the tenses of the verbs to go and to come: instead of "He has gone" they say "He has went" and instead of "He has come" it will be "He has came".


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 07:29 PM

'Tis my Father, I amn't able to stand my Ground.
Terence's Comedies Made English by Sir Roger L'Estrange (1733).

Amn't I a brother, and no brother ever loved a sister better....
Comic Dramas in Three Acts by Maria Edgeworth (1817)

But it was not long till, as I was hearing them read the 19th lesson, I asked them, as you directed me, 'How must we be justified?'
'By my good works,' says Jem Flynn.
'By faith,' says Bob Jones, 'amn't I right?'
'By faith and works,' says Darby Morris, 'amn't I right?'
'By faith without works, amn't I right?' says Miles Johnson.
'O! you're all right,' says I, 'more or less....'
—from an article "Case of the Protestants of Ireland" in Fraser's Magazine January, 1837.

"Well, Vara, look at me. Amn't I a poor wasted crathur now, in comparishment to what I was thin?"
Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry, Volume 2 by William Carleton (1833)

"Alley," said he, "are you not my wife, and amn't I your husband? ..."
—From "The Two Brothers: An Irish Tale" in Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, Volume 4 (1836)


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Artful Codger
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 11:41 PM

The verb "to sit" is perhaps a confusing example to use, since it can refer to two different actions: that of taking a seat (usually clarified with the addition of "down") and that of remaining seated. semi-submersible is concentrating on the second meaning (remaining seated), where the time at which "I" assumed the seat is immaterial to the sentence; the process of remaining seated was still in progress when the other action occurred. The concept of "in progress" is why the tense is called the past progressive.

As an example of the past progressive with the first meaning of "sit", consider: "I was just sitting to dinner when the intractable vermin slipped a whoopee cushion under my descending posterior." Of course, this tense has other uses, as a previous poster indicated; for instance, "He was just sitting, staring into the distance" (more emphasis on the duration of the action than with "he just sat").

The simple past ("sat") doesn't necessarily imply that the action has completed: "the mountain sat like a sepulchre upon the landscape" (and it's probably sitting there still, if the strip miners haven't gotten to it).

While the simple past and the past progressive can often be swapped, there's usually a shift of focus, however subtle--if not an overt change in meaning. The difference is usually significant enough that we make the right choice automatically, without conscious deliberation--it's only when we attempt to describe why we chose what we did that we get confused.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: PoppaGator
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 06:12 PM

Semi-s., you are indeed correct. Uncle Dave, in your gracious acknowledgement, you suppied the terms that I couldn't remember yesterday: transitive/intransitive.

I've heard "amn't," probably more often in movies and on TV than in the flesh, since it isn't common usage where I live. In my experience, I've heard the "m" vocalized pretty clearly; learning that the "m" is often silent among native speakers of dialects featuring this contraction, it's even more clear to me that "amn't" has evolved into "ain't," i.e., that "ain't" is a direct "descendant" of "amn't."


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: semi-submersible
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 05:02 PM

Further to the question of "I sat there" versus "I was sitting there": both correct, not always interchangeable.
"I sat" may refer either to the action of seating yourself, or to the duration of your sitting: "I sat there all evening."

"I was sitting" refers only to the period after you seated yourself. Returning to my seat and finding it occupied by someone else, I would not assert my prior claim with "I sat there" but rather "I was sitting there," or "I sat there first." The simple past "I sat there" could imply my occupation of that seat was over and done: mere historic information.

You could with only a slight change of meaning substitute "was sitting" in the phrase "I sat there before anyone else could take that seat"; while "was sitting" would make a great difference to "I sat there immediately when Dad told me." The past progressive (?) tense "I was sitting," instead of telling about the action itself, describes a scene after action ends.

I'm not getting this out of a textbook: I'm describing how our language, as I see it in use, gets ideas across as faithfully as possible. Is it any more pedantic than discussing modes and harmonies? Pedantic is making arbitrary rules and telling others to follow them: prescribing, not describing.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 03:01 PM

""Don must come from a very rough part of Southern England indeed to speak so commonly and incorrectly .""

Notting Hill, Mick!

That's Ladbroke Grove, West London, on the edge of Steptoe and Son country.

From birth to age seventeen, and the nearest place I heard amn't in use was Oxborough, Norfolk, when I spent summer holidays with my Dad's sister Mary, and her Norfolk born and bred husband, Fred.

My father was a County Cork man, and my mother the daughter of a Cornish farmer, who immigrated from County Mayo, and I did hear amn't from him on occasion.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 02:31 PM

Oh fuck. What a lot of shit. There are many many attempts above to lay down or enunciate rules of grammar that are just plain wrong.

One cannot expect perfect grammar in vernacular speech. Some solecisms, however, grate even in casual speech or writing.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: mayomick
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 01:29 PM

Don must come from a very rough part of Southern England indeed to speak so commonly and incorrectly . Likewise Suegorgeous .I was born and bred in the East End of London where we were taught to speak properly. In the east-end it was "amn't" - pronounced like "aren't" only with an "m" instead of an "n". The teachers were always trying to stop kids saying aremn't at the schools I went to -that was in the fifties and sixties .

I think this aremn't pronunciation might have started with posh English teachers trying to knock "amnt" out of kids of Irish parentage ,but confusing them into saying aremn't. When I was growing up you used to have people trying to sound a bit posh making all sorts of mistakes .Putting an "h" at the beginning of a word that should have started with a vowel was another one. Sometimes you'd get someone saying something like Hi harm't 'alf clever, harm't I ? I often wondered whether the word ham for a ham actor didn't come about that way . Professional actors mocking the hamateurs .Sorry for more thread creep.... mick


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 01:28 PM

"I believe in the power of you and I"

Are you sure this isn't a misheard lyric - perhaps the writer had got a particularly nice job in specialist fashion, textiles or clothing?

I believe in the power of U&I

For appalling grammar and forced rhyme you can't beat Ian Dury:

Einstein can't be classed as witless.
He claimed atoms were the littlest.
When you did a bit of splitting-em-ness
Frightened everybody shitless


A work of genius...

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Artful Codger
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 01:04 PM

Strictly speaking, "aren't I?" and "It's me" now are correct, and occur more frequently in "standard", even formal, usage than the supposedly "grammatically correct" alternatives, which are consequently less so. They have become fixed idioms, and do not follow the rules applied to other contexts.

This points out that grammar rules are not entirely consistent across the board; "correct" usage depends on grammatical context. We say "You went" but "Did you go?" We say "Did you go?" but not "Did you be?" "Aren't I?" as the negative form of "Am I?" is just one of those things. If you claim it's not "grammatically correct", you don't know what correct grammar is.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Robo
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 11:53 AM

Please repeat after me: Poetic license . . . poetic license . . . poetic license.

And now, idiomatic expression . . . idiomatic expression . . . idiomatic expression.

And last, suspension of disbelief . . . suspension of disbelief . . . suspension of disbelief.

And let us not forget, as the old Texan said, "there ain't no money in poetry, and that's what sets the poet free."


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 09:05 AM

""Nobody in the UK would say , "Of course I love you ,I'm your mum ,am I not?" "

They certainly WOULD say that. But more often, they'd say "aren't I?". Even though, strictly speaking, it's not correct.
""

True Sue, or even ain't I?

Amn't is a term I have heard, but rarely, and only in a very few dialects.

But then I'm a Southerner, so everything I say is suspect, north of Birmingham.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: melodeonboy
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 06:49 AM

And I certainly ain't!


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 04:20 AM

I aren't convinced.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Howard Jones
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 04:03 AM

The Wikipedia article, assuming it can be relied upon, clarifies the confusion and disagreement over "amn't". According to the article, it is a feature of some dialects of Scottish and Irish English. It is not, in my experience, a feature of English English. I say "aren't", and I am not a dialect speaker - I speak "middle-class standard Southern English", slightly tinged by 30 years living in the North. So far as I am aware, everyone I know also says "aren't". I am quite sure I have never heard "amn't" with the "m" pronounced, not even in Scotland (which I visit several times a year).

I have just picked up a novel at random to check how this usage is written down, and the author uses "aren't I?". This author is Val McDermid, who as it happens is Scottish, and the words are being spoken by a Scottish character, albeit an educated professional person rather than someone speaking vernacular Glaswegian.

I find the Wikipedia comment that "aren't" is "affected" rather surprising, since in my experience living in England it is the normal construction, at least in speech.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 04:01 AM

Returning to the I/me issue: I suspect that the common use of "(X) and I" in the accusative (i.e., for those who eschew such grammatical terminology, contexts where the one pronoun alone would certainly be "me") arises mainly from overcorrection, when teachers have condemned "me" in the nominative (i.e. where it would be "I"), and children have then applied this even where "me" would be normal. This could easily be exacerbated when some of those children become teachers of the next generation.

However there has been a further stage of development: that speakers have become so afraid of getting it "wrong" that they have adopted "myself" instead. The more often this is heard, the more it comes to seem normal, and the more people adopt it. If anything, I think I hear "(X) and myself" or "myself and (X)" more often nowadays than either "(X) and me" or "(X) and I"; this despite no-one having the slightest trouble in knowing which word to use when it is "I" or "me" alone.

One usage where the prescriptive grammarians wanted "I", but "me" is more natural, is in phrases such as "It's me". No-one would suggest that "C'est moi" is bad French and ought to be "C'est je", and there is no more reason to object to "It's me" in English.

Apropos "larn" or "learn" instead of "teach": at one time both senses of "learn" were good English, and the equivalent words still have both senses in the other Germanic languages.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Bupkes
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 11:08 PM

"Amn't" is new to me, and at first I thought it was someone parodying this discussion. But I see some convincing examples in a page of Wikipedia devoted to it. There it says, among other things,

'The Standard English form "I'm not" is available as an alternative to "I amn't" in Scottish English and Hiberno-English. There is no undisputed standard equivalent of "amn't I": "am I not", "aren't I", and "ain't I" may respectively be considered stilted, affected, and substandard.'


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Artful Codger
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 10:58 PM

It's worse when they turn a lassie into a Lassie. ;-}

My dictionary says "ain't" derives from "am not", was widespread in the 18th century, and is still perfectly normal in many dialects and informal contexts in both North America and Britain.

I only find grammar "errors" unacceptable when they violate the conventions for the dialect of the characters (including the "narrator") in the song.

If I recall rightly, mg asserted that rhyme is more important than grammar, but I disagree: a lapse in rhyme or a "poor" rhyme is quite common, and is seldom given much thought, whereas a grammar error (which does not accord with dialect usage) will cause the audience to wince, and that more than nullifies any benefit gained by reaching for the rhyme.

Moreover, if a songwriter is serious about his craft, he guards against becoming overly attached to what he writes. A stand-up comedian is expected to write at least five times (and closer to ten times) the material he will eventually use--any less, and it's rare that he won't bomb. He must resign himself that 80%, 90% or more will just have to be trashed--and that's before even facing an audience. Perhaps if songwriters wrote more like comedy writers, the label "singer-songwriter" wouldn't cause so many people to cringe.

I raise this point because if you're having to resort to awkward grammar, maybe you should toss the tack you're taking and find a new one.

A different standard also applies to adapting old works than to writing new ones. We expect a lower level of literacy and poetic quality in old lyrics. With new works, you emulate that at your own risk. Dialect is fine, but Diamondesque lyrics?--well, you'd better be a Neil Diamond.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 09:29 PM

Poppagator, you are correct on the transitive/intransitive thing. I done goofed! Mea culpa! Mea culpa! Mea maxima culpa!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Genie
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 08:35 PM

I thought that "amn't" was once correct and in common usage, maybe even in the US (or the colonies before we became the USA) and that it was generally pronounced like "ant" -- sort of the way we often say "gonna" or "wanta" instead of clearly articulating "going to" or "want to."    It's been ages since I gathered that etymological tidbit, and I can't cite a source or vouch for its accuracy.   But I can easily see how "amn't" - pronounced as "a'nt" could morph into "ain't" as quickly as, in some regions, "can't" may be pronounced as "cain't." There's also "hain't," which seems to derive from "haven't" or "hasn't" or "hadn't" being pronounced as "han't."

Back to the issue of this thread, though, I think a lot of folk, blues, and country music would lose much of its character and color if lyrics never used slang or dialect or even an occasional deliberate 'mangling' of the language. (And what's with all this adding syllables like "o" or "ay" to perfectly proper words - as in turning a fine proper young woman into a "lassie-o?" Shocking, I say! Shocking!)


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Genie
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 08:22 PM

Country music routinely uses "lay" where "lie" would be grammatically correct. E.g.,
Don Williams's "Lay Down Beside Me"
or
"Would You Lay With Me (In A Field Of Stone)?"
or
John Denver's "Annie's Song" ("... Let me lay down beside you, Let me always be with you ... ")

One that uses "lay" correctly is the classic country love song (Conway Twitty, I think) "Lay You Down."


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: olddude
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 07:53 PM

i am guilty for sure


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 07:27 PM

The a in am and amn't is the same, and the m is not silent.

I have occasionally heard aren't I, but only by dialect speakers.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Howard Jones
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 07:04 PM

Mayomick, I now understand what you are saying, although my first reaction was the same as that of Suegorgeous. However I believe you are mistaken in thinking the construction you quote is a contraction of "am not I". Do you have actual evidence for this? My reasons for disagreeing are:

Firstly, if this were the case it would be pronounced with a short a, the same as "am".

Secondly, I have never heard anyone pronounce it as "armpt" or seen it written as "amn't". Everyone I know, myself included, says "aren't" and that's how it's usually spelled. I think it's a bit tortuous to infer a silent "m" because you think it should come from "am"

I'm not even sure that "aren't I" is actually grammatically incorrect. The whole "aren't I?", "aren't you?", "isn't he?" construction is a rearrangement of the proper word order - you would say "am I not?", not "am not I?" - but is so universally used that I am more inclined to think of it as the correct construction when used in that particular context. This is only found in colloquial speech, and you wouldn't write it unless you were quoting or reporting speech. Colloquial speech frequently uses different grammatical constructions from written English - indeed, anyone who insists on speaking strictly grammatical English usually sounds a bit prissy.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 06:59 PM

Having lived in England for 34 years, and listened to English radio for over 60, I'm surprised Sue has never heard "amn't" for am not.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 06:50 PM

Mayo

I have never ever heard of "amn't" before this thread. And I would bet that no other English person has either.

OK - has any other English person heard of this?

"Nobody in the UK would say , "Of course I love you ,I'm your mum ,am I not?" "

They certainly WOULD say that. But more often, they'd say "aren't I?". Even though, strictly speaking, it's not correct.

Sue


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: PoppaGator
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 04:42 PM

Uncle Dave O: I hate to split hairs in a discussion that has already become somewhat too pedantic for my taste, but I feel quite sure that the clause "I was sitting" is not an example of passive voice.

The difference between "I sat" and "I am sitting" is not the difference between active and passive. That would be true only if the "I" in question were being sat upon (the object of the action in question as opposed to the subject performing the action of sitting).

I think the distinction, explained as well as I can without resort to the technical grammatical terms that I no longer remember, is that "I sat" describes a single one-time happening that occured in the past, while "I was sitting" describes an ongoing condition in the past. An extremely fine distinction, perhaps moreso in regard to "seated-ness" than it might be in other contexts. In other words, "I sat" refers to the moment at which one assumed a sitting postion, while "I was sitting" communicates the idea that I ccntinued to sit for a period of time.

A better example of active vs passive voice: "I wrote the letter" (active) as opposred to "the letter was written by me" (passive). According to The Elements of Style, use of the passive is to be avoided whenever the same idea can be expressed equally well (and more concisely) in the active voice. In practice, over-use of the passive voice is characteristic of a writer/speaker trying to appear more erudite that he/she actually is, much like employing the phrase "you and I" as the object of a predicate or preposition, where the objective (and, to some, seemingly more informal) "you and me" is actually correct.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Bupkes
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 03:08 PM

Since Don T. commented thoughtfully about my post on the line from "A Sailor's Prayer"

    "I will not lie me down, this rain a-ragin' ",

I'd like to explain how I see the rules for lie and lay, because using these verbs give everyone a lot of trouble, in general. They're highly irregular verbs, and it's additionally confusing that lie even has lay as a past tense.

The commonest confusion involves the meanings to lie, "to rest in a horizontal position" and to lay, "to place something down".

Lay is a transitive verb, so there must be a something to place or put down. "They lay the carpet in the room." (They lay what? They lay the carpet.) The past tense of lay is laid: "Yesterday they laid the carpet."

Lie is intransitive, and never has an object. "We lie in the sun." ("We lie what?" doesn't make sense here.) The past tense of lie is lay, confusingly: "Yesterday we lay in the sun."

So, "Now I lay me down to sleep" is standard usage, and "I will not lie me down" is not. Richard Lederer once said he used the warning mnemonic, "You only lay down when you have carnal relations with a duck!"

In the chorus line from the song "A Sailor's Prayer", I read into it that the sailor well knows the coarse meaning of "to lay", and he wants to present himself as seriously making a solemn vow, not as Barnacle Bill. That, to me, is what makes his mistaken grammar poignant.

[PS: I consulted and took examples from William F. Russell's book The Parents' Handbook of Grammar and Usage (1982, Stein and Day, New York).]


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: GUEST,mayomick
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 02:49 PM

Sorry, Amn't I silly not to have put my name down. I'm that last guest.
Suegorgeous,
People use "amn't I?" all the time in the UK unless they are very posh.I think they do it without noticing it .Were they to analyze it,most people would probably say that they were using bad grammar - misusing the words "aren't I?"

"Mum ,do you love me?"
"Of course I love you ,I'm your mum amn't I?"

Nobody in the UK would say , "Of course I love you ,I'm your mum ,am I not?" .


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 02:43 PM

You'm a five foot flirt wi' the face of an angel,
You better had leave I alone,
Why the way you're acting it nearly unnerves I,
The thing that preserves I is my joviality,


Excerpt from a man who knew when and how to mangle grammar to very good effect......Cyril Tawney.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 11:49 AM

David el Gnomo:
Obviously 'I was sat sitting there' is an incorrect comedic phrase in the best Hilda Baker tradion but which is right, "I sat there" or "I was sitting there"?
The phrase which most often causes raised hackles (along those lines) is "I was sat there" which seems to suggest that the speaker was forced into the seat by some third person.

Cheers
Nigel


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 11:23 AM


Obviously 'I was sat sitting there' is an incorrect comedic phrase in the best Hilda Baker tradion but which is right, "I sat there" or "I was sitting there"?


Either of those usages is correct, depending on whether you are intending to speak in active voice or passive voice.   

I sat there = active voice

I was sitting there = passive voice

As a general matter of writing style in general prose writing, the active voice is MUCH to be preferred to the passive. It's my impression that those who use passive voice in general prose usually (1) have something to hide, or (2) because of feelings of inadequacy, want to use passive because they think it sounds more formally "proper". In each of those cases, the speaker wants to hold the action at arms' length.

"I made a mistake" is far better than "Mistakes were made". In that case, you'll note, precisely who made the mistake is obscured. Seldom would a speaker actually come out and say "Mistakes were made by me".

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: GUEST,Gail
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 11:02 AM

Matt, that one really bugs me too. Even the most respected news commentators have been heard to say, for example, 'what we need are more trains'. Surely they must of known better. Oops, there goes another one.


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Mr Happy
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 10:55 AM

........similarly the common usage of 'spoonfulls' rather than 'spoonsfull', 'brother-in-laws' instead of 'brothers-in-law' etc


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Subject: RE: Poor grammar in lyrics
From: Matt Seattle
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 10:41 AM

Gauche rhyme or spoof, the Turtles knew it was
et cetera
and not
eK cetera.

The one that gets me is singular noun with plural verb, often heard on BBC radio, e.g. 'The occurrence of severe weather events are increasing', indicating a short attention span where the verb agrees with the nearest noun rather than the subject of the sentence or clause.

Perhaps inconsistently I relish the quirks of dialect. A favourite from my Dad (born and raised in Glasgow) is 'I used to could'. I've since learnt that the future version of this is 'I will can'.


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