Radio? Gaga.

And possibly goo-goo as well. Depending on how carried away I get. Yes, this Sunday I’m being interviewed by the lovely Lynn Freeman for The Arts on Sunday. It’s going out live at 2.30 pm, which adds a certain amount of peril to the event.I’m sharing the danger with Ruth Todd, talking briefly about the Putting Words to the Feelings session for the Festival of Ideas. (You’ve bought your tickets, haven’t you? Silly me. Of course you have. Not that I’ll be noting down who’s there and who isn’t, and meting out an interestingly inventive punishment accordingly. Because That Would Be Wrong.)(Ish.) And a late addition to the lineup for the Festival – we will be joined by Paul Cleave, who has just won the 2011 Ngaio Marsh Award for the Best Crime Novel.

In related news, I’m dabbling with (yet another [insert preferred expletive]) earthquake poem. I know, I know. But we’re going through another little swarm of quakes, so it’s very much on my mind again. (Still.) And apparently the act of putting feelings into words has a measurable therapeutic effect on the brain, so think of it as yet another form of self-medication. In this case, I’m toying with the possibilities of conjugating the verb “to munt” (well, more the verb “to be” with munted tacked on – as an ?auxiliary? Thing). One of the problems is that I have absolutely no idea how to conjugate (typed without even the slightest hint of a giggle or smirk, I promise!). It’s the whole “I was part of the generation of Aussie schoolkids who were experimented with” thing, and unfortunately being brought up by pedants just means I use the various forms in their correct positions, but have no idea of the rules behind doing so (other than “No Joanna, you say [—]”). Never mind, it’s not intended to be high literature. (Did I mention it involves Real Estate Agents?)

But I’d be interested to hear from those with good grammatical knowledge – is there a particular order in which you recite the various conjugations of the English verb “to be”?

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9 thoughts on “Radio? Gaga.

  1. It had to be, or not to be…

    The verb ‘to be’ is the most irregular verb in English – ‘to be’ is conjugated as follows:

    Infinitive: be

    Present Participle: being

    Past participle: been

    Person, Number Present Past

    1st,singular I am was

    2nd,singular you are were

    3rd,singular he/she/it is was

    1st,plural we are were

    2nd,plural you are were

    3rd,plural they are were

    BE as a Linking Verb
    The verb ‘to be’ is classified as a linking verb because it shows the condition or existence of the subject. For example:

    Paul is crazy. The flowers are on the floor. The table is part of the furniture. The building was here yesterday.

    The Future Tense
    The future is constructed by using ‘will’ plus the infinitive ‘be’. For example:

    Paul will be crazy. The beds will be in the gymnasium.

    BE as an Auxiliary Verb
    The verb ‘to be’ is also used in verb phrases as an auxiliary verb. The present progressive is formed by using ‘am being’, ‘is being’, or ‘are being’ plus the past participle of a verb. For example:

    The city is being repaired.

    The past progressive is formed by using ‘was being’ or ‘were being’ plus the past participle of a verb. For example:

    Joanna was being questioned by the police.

    Contractions of the verb ‘to be’.
    The verb ‘to be’ is often contracted in the present tense when it occurs after pronouns and nouns. The contraction for the third person may be confused with a possessive. For example, the sentence ‘The city’s sinking’ means ‘The city is sinking’ and the contraction “‘s” is part of the verb phrase ‘is sinking’. However, in a sentence such as ‘The library’s sinking was a tragedy’, the word ‘library’s’ is a possessive form and not a contraction. In this case, ‘library’ is a gerund (a present participle verb form used as a noun) and not part of a verb phrase. The contraction ‘it’s’ is frequently confused with the possessive pronoun ‘its’.

    There are also the Negative Contractions formed by the appendix ‘n’t’.

    The verb ‘to be’ has additional tenses, as for example those used in the predicate cases. (If you want those you will have to pay me more!).

    “Ohh, how ’bout that then, our Joanna IS BEING interviewed on ta wireless set!”

    • Thank you Ian (I think …). I offer no comment on your choice of examples.
      But my question is, is there a particular order in which it is customary to recite the various conjugations?

  2. Are you referring to the way we use to ‘chant’ our Latin verbs (“amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant.”) etc., and looking for an anglo equivalent?
    There does not appear to be any record of anything quite the same, and I went back to my earliest English grammar (1850) The only things I could find were songs such as :
    Here we go round the bramble bush,(original lyric)
    The bramble bush,
    The bramble bush
    Here we go round the bramble bush
    On a cold and frosty morning. etc.etc. This was used to teach the ‘doing’ words – verbs in a setting the children were used to. But I know this is no use to you is it …

  3. I certainly can not find an English equivalent; and that was with a man’s look! So then I had a women’s look, but still nought.

  4. I was similarly handicapped by educational fashions, but I think in general verbs are always conjugated Ist, 2nd, 3rd person singular (i.e. I am, you are, he/she/it is) and then 1st, 2nd and 3rd person plural (i.e. we are, you are, they are). Is that what you are asking?

    Is the verb you want to use “to munt” or “to be munted”. (Truly, I love this line of enquiry:)).
    Then, I suspect you may be getting into transitive/intransitive territory (?) where I really am … munted.

    Don’t stop writing about the earthquakes. I have found your words to be amongst the most useful out there.

    • Thanks Tracey, for both parts of your comment.
      I think the verb in question is “to be munted”. The simplest form being “This house is munted”, although I’ve been toying with the possibilities of using variations like “because of severe munting” and/or “was in the process of munting”.
      I just hope the poem manages to be as interesting as the research!

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