[DWJ] A grammar realization - Where are we from?
colin at kindness.demon.co.uk
Fri Apr 13 06:09:53 EDT 2007
Belben, Philip (Energy Wholesale) wrote:
> Charlie asked:
>> Hmm. Is 'mote it be' an example of the hortatory subjunctive? Always
>> wanted to meet one.
> I'm not sure whether "mote" is a subjunctive. "Be" in that phrase is an
> infinitive, stripped of its (spurious) "to" by the modal verb "mote". I
> would incline away from the hypothesis, the hortatory meaning supplied
> by the modal verb rather than by the subjunctive, but a philologist
> might disagree.
I would strongly agree.
"Subjunctive", which is vestigial in English, is a property of
constructions not verb-forms like Latin or French (there is not one
single verb form in modern English which is exclusively subjunctive, it
is only in context that a verb can be seen to be subjunctive).
In most registers of English the meaning elsewhere conveyed by
subjunctive constructions is expressed by modal auxiliaries such as
'may' and 'would'. You could I suppose call such constructions
'subjunctive' for semantic reasons, but I don't think anything would be
gained. I can certainly see no reason for regarding the auxiliary itself
> "So be it" is definitely a hortatory subjunctive, as are the first few
> main verbs in the Lord's prayer: "Hallowed _be_ thy name, thy kingdom
> _come_, thy will _be_ done".
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