O, Ye Saladeers! A word!

April 5, 2007

Before I start, a warning: this piece, while it may be short, will probably ramble quite a bit (alas, it will not be a rambler: one who walks through the countryside on a specified route; nor A rose which straggles or climbs freely). Such are the dangers of passover time. Speaking of the dangers of Passover time, we’ve seen a noticeable drop in traffic these last few days. I assure you, dear reader, that Yesterday’s Salad is most certainly KP (with the noticeable exception of ibiteyoureyes who could just as easily be known as ibiteyourswine). And just in case it is our Christian brethren who have departed our internet abode, avail ye, and have ye a Maundy Thursday!

I’m sure you’ve noticed my archaic use of “ye” today. While it’s archaic, the word still has a purpose. Once upon a time, “ye’ was the standard English nominative second person plural, and “thou” was the standard nominative singular. The two have mostly been conflated into the word “you,” though some dialects of English continue to make a distinction: y’all is the most common, although there’s also yous, yousuns, and Johnny Cash once sang, “Come all you young fellers.” Wikipedia has an extensive article.

I’m also going to admit that I don’t fully understand the English subjunctive. While I understand it in the context of “If I were..,” the nuances of the subjunctive are not self-evident. The truth is, most of the purposes of the subjunctive have been replaced by modal verbs. I guess such is the beauty of being a native speaker that I don’t have to think about the fact that “God save the Queen,” or “God forbid,” is subjunctive.

Verily, this wasn’t as incoherent as I had feared. If only I’d found a way to incorporate Brandy Taylor and Supreme Commander, perhaps our traffic problem would reverse.

One Response to “O, Ye Saladeers! A word!”

  1. […] My favorite word play in Burns’ poem is his use of the word “gang.” Gang, meaning “to walk, or go” is now solely a literary word. The verb is easily identified as Germanic, similar to the modern German gegangen or the Modern Yiddish, gegangen, the past participles of gehen and geyn, respectively. The word survived in the Northern dialects much longer than it did in the South of England. In the poem, it’s simultaneously highly literary and highly folkloric. This interplay is one of the poem’s greatest successes. Indeed, Burns’ play with regionalism is something to consider the next time you move to cut y’all from your paper (or, in DH’s case, “ye“). […]

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