word order (was Re: Random DWJ discovery of the day)

Belben, Philip (Energy Wholesale) Philip.Belben at eon-uk.com
Tue Apr 5 04:51:50 EDT 2005


Colin postulated:

> However a case can be made that expressions such as "It is I" and "He
> and I went there" are not part of English, but part of an artificial
> language invented by people

Well, they are both expressions that I use naturally, being part of the
language I absorbed as a child.  Does that mean that my native language
isn't English?  (Thinking about it, I would say "It is I" or "It's me",
but I wouldn't mix and match.)

What, though, do you mean by "an artificial language invented by
people"?  If English wasn't invented by people, who was it invented by?
Or whom was it invented by? [*]  The distinction between an artificial
and a natural language is easier to grasp, but I would argue that it is
seldom if ever clear cut in the real world.

> (and conversely that 'to boldly go' is part of English).

I don't know of any serious scholar of English who would claim that it
was not.  In fact, I don't know of any who would even claim that it was
not correct English.  David Crystal, in the Encyclopedia (?sp) of the
English Language, lists around a dozen, together with passages in which
they each express their respective support for this construction.

Philip.

[*]  I accept that "by whom was it invented?" is also grammatically
correct, and could be regarded as the basic form of that sentence.  But
when I move "whom" to the head for emphasis, "by" floats to its other
natural position, directly after the verb.  I maintain - as, I believe,
do most descriptive grammarians - that it is entirely irrelevant whether
this is also the end of a sentence!  As regards "who" or "whom" at the
front of the sentence, "who" appears (to me) to be the natural form
because when we utter it, it doesn't yet know that it is governed by
"by".  But if I thought before speaking I'd probably say "whom".



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