been: Dialect question for the Brits

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been: Dialect question for the Brits

Post by Archived Topic » Sun Jan 06, 2002 10:22 am

Just crossed my mind yesterday.
If a Londoner or "Estuary" speaker says "I been at work", it is a simple dropping of the auxiliary "have". Could be seen as dialect or sloppiness, but whichever way you see it it is the past perfect.
It occurred to me, however, that if a West-Country speaker says "I been at work", I think it may be dialect use for the simple past.
"Where were you yesterday?"
"I been at work."
Can anyone substantiate my gut-reaction?
Either way, it reminds me of travelling on a stopping train through a town in Dorset some twenty-five years ago. Pulling into the station, I heard the following wonderful announcement over the platform tannoy in broad Dorset:
"This do be Stalbridge."

Phil W. 2 November, 2004
Submitted by Phil White (Munich - Germany)
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been: Dialect question for the Brits

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jan 06, 2002 10:37 am

Apologies, "past perfect" in the above should have read "present perfect" or simply "perfect".

Phil W.
Reply from Phil White (Munich - Germany)
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been: Dialect question for the Brits

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jan 06, 2002 10:51 am

Phil, you may be right, but I don't know how it would be possible to determine the accuracy of your speculation, other than to ask some West Country dialect speakers how they perceive the distinction you are attempting to draw. The difference between 'I have been at work' and 'I was at work' is, for all practical purposes, so minor as to be insignificant, at least as far as I am concerned. I think it may be one of those dilemmas that is primarily dependent on the mind-set of the perceiver.

Meanwhile, today's presidential election result do be a crock o' shit.
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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been: Dialect question for the Brits

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jan 06, 2002 11:05 am

Oh Erik!
* "I have been at work all day on Wednesday."
* "I was at work since midday."
There are cases in standard English (elusive thing) where they are far from interchangeable, and they never have precisely the same meaning even if you can substitute them on paper.
I was rather hoping that there were some West-Country speakers tuned in. It's of no significance though. Just crossed my mind in an idle moment.
Election? Call that an election?
Reply from Phil White (Munich - Germany)
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been: Dialect question for the Brits

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jan 06, 2002 11:20 am

If I may say so, Phil, you have changed the terms of your original speculative assertion. I accept that when you add a temporal qualification the two tenses work differently.
But that was not what you were asking about your terse example, and indeed I wonder whether even one of your West Country speakers would say "I been at work all day on Wednesday" rather than reverting to the Standard English "I was at work all day on Wednesday". I don't think a Cockney would.

As you imply, we need some native West Country speakers to get a proper fix on this one.
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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been: Dialect question for the Brits

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jan 06, 2002 11:34 am

You two be sore losers? You both be #2?

Definition: Loser
Loser
Noun
1. A contestant who loses the contest.

2. A person with a record of failing; someone who loses consistently.

3. A gambler who loses a bet.



Reply from Dave Schroder (Dayton, Ohio - U.S.A.)
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been: Dialect question for the Brits

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jan 06, 2002 11:49 am

I smell Al.
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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been: Dialect question for the Brits

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jan 06, 2002 12:03 pm

Ken,
No, not changing the terms, just stating explicitly what I was originally thinking and failed to express adequately, namely that a West-Country speaker might indeed say "I been at work last Wednesday". A Cockney certainly wouldn't.
Reply from Phil White (Munich - Germany)
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been: Dialect question for the Brits

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jan 06, 2002 12:17 pm

And don't blame me, Eric. I pushed for Oprah Winfrey as President, rather than a white man in the Madhouse. oops, madman in the Whitehouse. Oops...
Reply from John Barton (New Plymouth - New Zealand)
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been: Dialect question for the Brits

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jan 06, 2002 12:32 pm

And don't blame me, Eric. I pushed for Oprah Winfrey as President, rather than a white man in the Madhouse. oops, madman in the Whitehouse. Oops...
Reply from John Barton (New Plymouth - New Zealand)
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been: Dialect question for the Brits

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jan 06, 2002 12:46 pm

Ha! That is a most amusing coincidence! Before the presidential election, my wife and I were discussing the merits of the candidates, and we both agreed that both Dolly Parton and Oprah Winfrey would have made very appealing substitutes.

For what it's worth, my vote would go to Dolly.

(Hmm... I must remember to spell my name right in future. :-)
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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been: Dialect question for the Brits

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jan 06, 2002 1:01 pm

Errr....what was the question again?
I can speak Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall but I done forgot what you was wantin.

R
Reply from Robert Masters (Asia - Thailand)
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been: Dialect question for the Brits

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jan 06, 2002 1:15 pm

This one's for Dave Dayton.

Outside of America, this concept of (sneer sneer) "loser" is almost...quaint. I believe that it is an icon in the USA, but somehow the rest of the world has a less tense view of things.

Consider the Olympic 400 metres (oops, yards) final, in which the eight best in the world are in a line.

I find it disturbing to think that 7 of these are "losers". In my mind every one of them has already won. They are all winners. The best out of millions. In the same way, how many paraplegics in wheelchairs fail to come first in hundreds of marathons throughout the world every year.

Hate these fucking loser cripples, don't you?

R
Reply from Robert Masters (Asia - Thailand)
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