LINGUIST List 11.1624

Wed Jul 26 2000

Disc: Queen's English/American English

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <karenlinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Mike Maxwell, have gone/ am gone (was: American English Influence on the Queen's English)

Message 1: have gone/ am gone (was: American English Influence on the Queen's English)

Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 09:10:54 -0400
From: Mike Maxwell <mike_maxwellsil.org>
Subject: have gone/ am gone (was: American English Influence on the Queen's English)

In Linguist List 11.1622, Ronald Sheen (Ronald_SheenUQTR.UQuebec.CA)
writes:
>David Fertig pointed out that there are
>"semi-Britishisms that slip into the American version apparently unnoticed.
>The most obvious is when the American narrator asks: "Where have all the
>Teletubbies gone?", where an American would almost always say: "Where did
>all the Teletubbies go?"
>
>I doubt this..."Where have all the Teletubbies gone?" and the other form
are
>both quite normal North American English.

I agree that this is quite common (I grew up in the Midwest). But rather
than simply agree, I would like to ask a semi-related question.

To my knowledge, "gone" is the only past participle (as opposed to passive
participle) in modern English which can take a form of "be" as the Aux verb.
Thus, for me "I am gone" is at least as good, and probably better than, "I
have gone". Until I saw Ronald Sheen's example above, I hadn't noticed that
there is something else going on here: if a destination follows "gone" (or
in Sheen's example, the trace of wh-movement--apologies if traces and tooth
fairies fall into the same class for you :-)), "have gone" is better; "is
gone" is better when there is no destination. That is:

 I am/ ?have gone.
 I ?am/ have gone to the store.
 Where ??are/ have they gone?

Note also "He has been gone for several hours now."

This would be explicable if "gone" were ambiguous between an adjective and a
past participle, but it fails every other test I can think of for
adjective-hood. And of course it seems unlikely to be a passive.

Has anyone looked into this? My edition (1979) of Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech
and Svartvik, which discusses nearly everything else about English :-), has
says nothing to say about this. I can summarize comments for the list.

 Mike Maxwell
 SIL
 Mike_Maxwellsil.org
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue