Verbing

Yagoda’s passion for verbs is obvious; they are clearly his favorite part of speech yet. I appreciated his affinity for the word get, and its numerous denotations. I thought it was interesting that the words have got only seem to sound acceptable when presented in a contraction, such as, “You’ve got mail!” I also was intrigued by the frequency with which people will intentionally use the incorrect conjugation of words. The first example that came to my mind was from the 2008 film Pineapple Express. In the movie, Craig Robinson’s character utters the humorous line “I seen’t it,” which has since become a popular Internet meme. The sentence is a curious thing to look at. When you dissect it according to other –n’t contractions, Robinson is literally saying, “I see not it.” However, the phrase is actually an emphatic colloquialism for “I have seen it.” Most likely, Robinson’s original line is a play on the tendency for some Americans to rephrase have seen or saw to a simple seen (i.e. “I seen her yesterday,” or “I seen that movie”). Robinson’s line may also have something to do with the director or writers wanting the Black actor to say his lines with some allusion to African American Vernacular English, as mentioned by Yagoda.

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The reference to Jerry Butler’s song “He Don’t Love You Like I Love You,” immediately made me think of Beyoncé’s recent release of the album Lemonade. Her song “Hold Up” reprises Butler’s in the chorus that repeats “They don’t love you like I love you.” While Beyoncé’s version is grammatically correct, as Yagoda pointed out, many song titles and lyrics don’t use correct verb tenses, and recycling lyrics only perpetuates and encourages misuse of grammar. I am open to English evolving over time, but I don’t believe every incorrect conjugation should become the norm (“seen’t” I’m actually alright with). Interestingly enough, in the 15 names credited to writing “Hold Up,” Butler’s remains absent.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Andrea,

    I really liked your blog post! It was interesting to see that you brought in outside examples that related to what Yagoda was
    talking about. I agree with you about how people use incorrect conjunctions; I wonder if it’s intentional or is it how they were raised to speak? Maybe they grew up in an area that spoke a certain way compared to how people in southern California speak.

    I’ve never seen the movie Pineapple express or Beyonce’s new music video but it’s nice to see that correct grammar is being used in music because sometimes there can be confusion or mix up into what’s being said. I agree, English is always going to change; we can’t avoid it. I believe it’s important to use correct grammar so others can understand what one is trying to say. It’s important to be professional because one day we’re all going to have a career that is going to require professional work.

    Like

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