Hey man, I gots ta know (Gerund versus gerundive)

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Hey man, I gots ta know (Gerund versus gerundive)

Post by daverba » Fri Jul 21, 2006 6:19 pm

[Movie: Dirty Harry. Thug lies on ground, Dirty Harry towers over him with gun in hand]

Thug: "Hey man, I gots ta know ... Was it a gerund or a gerundive?"



Anyway, back 40 years ago, I saw a British movie where a teacher quizzed his students on gerunds and gerundives. He'd state a word, and the student had to tell him whether it was a gerund or a gerundive.

Basically -- What in tarnation is a "gerund" and a "gerundive" (in simple easy to understand terms) and how can I tell them apart (just in case I ever find myself in a mid-20th century B&W British school movie) ??

I'll give 10 points to whoever answers the question, and 100 points to whoever tells me the movie title ('cause I don't remember).
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Hey man, I gots ta know (Gerund versus gerundive)

Post by Phil White » Fri Jul 21, 2006 9:39 pm

In very simple terms, a gerund is a verb form (in English ending in "-ing") which acts in many respects like a noun and a gerundive is a verb form (in English ending in "-ing") which acts in many respects like an adjective.

Both terms are becoming less popular in modern analysis, with terms such as "verbal noun" and "verbal adjective" being preferred. Try looking here if you want some painful related analysis.

Can't help you with the film, though.
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Hey man, I gots ta know (Gerund versus gerundive)

Post by paulwiggins » Wed Aug 02, 2006 2:55 am

I've forgotten why this is on my files but here it is



"I know what you're thinking punk," hissed Wordy Harry to his new editor, "you're thinking, 'Did he use six superfluous adjectives or only five?' - and to tell the truth, I forgot myself in all this excitement: but being as this is English, the most powerful language in the world, whose subtle nuances will blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel loquacious?' - well do you, punk?"
-- Stuart Vasepuru, Edinburgh, Scotland
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Hey man, I gots ta know (Gerund versus gerundive)

Post by Shelley » Sun Aug 06, 2006 12:59 pm

This was in New York's Daily News a few weeks ago:
Giving new meaning to 'language cop'
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Users of slang, beware! Language experts want to give Malaysia's literary agency the power to prosecute anyone who violates the purity of the Malay language, a newspaper said today. Bahasa Melayu is Malaysia's official language, but English is widely spoken, with Chinese dialects and Tamil used by those of Chinese or Indian descent. The guardians of Malaysia's heritage would have their work cut out for them if the National Language (Purity and Preservation) Act 2006 became law, the Sun newpaper said. "Do you freeze in midsentence and unscramble your corrupted grammar lest the sharp-eared pundits of the language house haul you up for the willful murder of the gerund?" the paper asked.
Those who wish to become 'ELP (English Language Police) officers will be liberally provided with black markers and "wite-out". .45 Magnums, however, will be furnished at the discretion of senior management.
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Hey man, I gots ta know (Gerund versus gerundive)

Post by daverba » Sun Aug 06, 2006 6:34 pm

Phil, thanks muchly.
- swimming is good for you = gerund
- a crackling campfire = gerundive

Paul, that's awesome (I wish I had written it).

Shelley. Yes, this has become an odd phenomenon even here in America. A recent article states that regional accents have become MORE distinct despite the profusion of audio media (radio, TV, movies, etc) which would make one think a trend toward the opposite. I've heard of murdering the Queen's English, but that's ridiculous.
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Hey man, I gots ta know (Gerund versus gerundive)

Post by dalehileman » Sun Aug 06, 2006 6:52 pm

Phil I don't understand

Can you use the same word as either a gerund or gerundive
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Hey man, I gots ta know (Gerund versus gerundive)

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Aug 07, 2006 3:50 am

Dale, for your answer have a look at Phil's link and his treatment of this topic there.
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Hey man, I gots ta know (Gerund versus gerundive)

Post by Phil White » Mon Aug 07, 2006 12:35 pm

Dave (and Dale),

I said above that my answer was "in very simple terms". The fact of the matter is that the explanation you get will depend on who you are talking to.

Both terms originally derive from the analysis of Latin grammar. The gerund and the gerundive shared the same form in Latin. The Latin gerund is a verb form which acts as a noun and is virtually always translated in English as a verbal noun ending in "-ing" (modus vivendi - way of living). The Latin Gerund cannot be used as the subject of a sentence (it lacks the nominative case).

The gerundive is a far more complex beast, expressing concepts that we find difficult to render easily in English. In form it is the same as the gerund, and is also derived directly from a verb. The meaning usually reflects some kind of obligation or moral duty. It is often translated by some construction with "to be", but this rarely renders the meaning well. "homo abominandus" could be translated as a "frightful man" in the sense of a "man who ought to be regarded as an abomination (by all right-minded people)". All of the meaning in italics is carried by the gerundive "abominandus".

In these uses to describe Latin grammar, the two words have clear meanings.

However, the term "gerund" and (less frequently) the term "gerundive" are also used in the context of English grammar, and they are used differently by different people.

Perhaps it is easiest to first deal with the use of the word "gerundive" in the context of English grammar. Probably the majority of grammarians would say that there is no gerundive in English, and you will look in vain for the term in most grammars (both old and new). A large number of people, however, including many linguists, use the term to refer to the "-ing" form of the verb used as an adjective ("his failing health", "my aching head"). In this sense, Dave's "crackling" is a gerundive.

The use of the term "gerund" is a little more complex. Some people argue that all uses of the "-ing" form of the verb as a noun should be referred to as a gerund. This is possibly the most commonly understood meaning. Grammarians, language teachers, linguists and other nitpickers restrict the use of the term gerund to cases where the "-ing" form of the verb behaves as both a noun and a verb simultaneously.
Thus:
I love reading your books
"your books" is the object of the verb "read", therefore "reading" is a verb. At the same time, the noun phrase "reading your books" and in particular its headword "reading" is the object of the verb "love" and must therefore be a noun.

The method I find easiest for testing whether an "-ing" verbal noun is a gerund (in this sense) is to try modifying the word by an adverb or adjective.

Thus:
The fighting lasted several hours.
*The fiercely fighting lasted several hours. (I cannot use an adverb to qualify "fighting", therefore it cannot be a gerund.)"
The fierce fighting lasted several hours. (I can use an adjective, therefore it is a plain old verbal noun.)

Contrast:
Taking drugs is a dangerous pastime.
Taking drugs frequently is a dangerous pastime. (I can use an adverb to qualify "taking", therefore it must be a gerund.)
*Frequent taking drugs is a dangerous pastime. (I cannot use an adjective, therefore it is not a plain old verbal noun.)

You will find this or similar explanations of the term "gerund" in most (but not all) English grammars.

I personally prefer not to make the distinction, although I can see that it can be extremely useful in in-depth grammatical analysis.

Dave's second example is a gerund in the broader definition that I generally use. Frankly, I'm not sure whether it fails the test for the narrower definition or not:

Swimming regularly is good for you.
Regular swimming is good for you.

Both the adjective and the adverb seem possible. Clearly, if it is modified by the adverb, it's a gerund. If it's modified by the adjective, it's a verbal noun. But what if it is simply not modified (as in Dave's example)? Perhaps, like Schrödinger's cat, it is in both states simultaneously until we modify it. This one of the several reasons why I have problems with the narrower definition. For me it doesn't always hold water.

Take your choice!
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Hey man, I gots ta know (Gerund versus gerundive)

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Aug 07, 2006 8:54 pm

Thanks, Phil, for a very lucid exploration of this topic.
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Hey man, I gots ta know (Gerund versus gerundive)

Post by kagriffy » Mon Aug 07, 2006 9:46 pm

Yes, Phil, that was quite competent! ;-)
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Hey man, I gots ta know (Gerund versus gerundive)

Post by Phil White » Mon Aug 07, 2006 9:50 pm

QUITE competent?
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Hey man, I gots ta know (Gerund versus gerundive)

Post by kagriffy » Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:35 am

Maybe that should have been QUIET(ly) competent.
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Hey man, I gots ta know (Gerund versus gerundive)

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Aug 08, 2006 7:49 pm

Better to quiet when you're ahead. ;-)
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Re: Hey man, I gots ta know (Gerund versus gerundive)

Post by oso_legit » Tue Sep 27, 2011 7:24 am

this is the movie you are referring to: http://www.wordwizard.com/phpbb3/viewto ... 16&t=19142

if it's not too late.

I registered just to share that with you...

hope it helps.
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Re: Hey man, I gots ta know (Gerund versus gerundive)

Post by oso_legit » Tue Sep 27, 2011 7:26 am

that didn't work so well, this, rather is the link I tried to share:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042542/reviews

the movie title was The Happy Years
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