Today's topic is Christmas carols.
Sometime in the 1900s people stopped speaking this way. I'm not sure why, but one reference said that it might have been “partly due to the identical pronunciation of is and has” when they're used in contractions. For example, "he's come" could mean either "He is come" or "He has come" (3).
I don't usually talk about foreign languages, but I found it interesting that many Romance languages, such as French and Italian, still use this verb form, and it is normal today in those languages to say the English equivalent of "He is come."
A lot of the material I found about archaic English usage was far too complex for Quick and Dirty Tips, so I am including a list of further-reading resources at the end of the transcript for people who want to learn more about it.
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Finally, if any of you are wondering what I would like for Christmas, I have two simple requests for anyone who's celebrating a holiday. First, just relax and be kind to others. I'm sure The Modern Manners Guy would approve of that message!
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*Original spelling: "The spyces and the wyn is come anon."
- Melyngoch, A. A. 100 Hour Board. 2005. BYU Newsnet. http://theboard.byu.edu/index.php?area=viewall&id=15836 (accessed December 19, 2006).
- Thomas MacDonagh (1878-1916). Searc's Web Guide to 20th Century Ireland. http://www.searcs-web.com/mcdonagh.html (accessed December 19, 2006).
- Carol. be+intransitive. 2001. The Maven's Word of the Day. http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=20010912 (accessed December 19, 2006).
Further Reading (in no particular order)
- Word Reference Forum Discussion on “I am come”
- Die.com entry on “come.” (See “Note:” about halfway down the page.)
- Answers.com entry on “unaccusative verbs”
- Wikipedia Entry on Unaccusative Verbs
- How Students Acquire Things You Never Teach Them (A PowerPoint presentation that includes a discussion of unaccusative verbs)
- BYU 100 Hour Board discussion of unaccusative verbs
- The Maven's Word of the Day: be + intransitive
- Universiteit Utrecht “Search the Lexicon” entry on unaccusative verbs
- Why Language Changes