May 19th, 2006

ozarque figure

Linguistics; Ozark English; "for ... to" example...

Long, long ago you asked me for an example of an Ozark English sentence where the use of "for" makes a difference in meaning that sets it off clearly from the more standard varieties of American English and could cause trouble for an OzE native speaker on a standardized test. And yesterday, looking through my field notes, I came across an example that I think is just what's needed and that can be explained very briefly.

I was talking to a teenager from down the road one winter, and I asked him, "Are the roads getting icy?" And he said, "No, but I expect for them to."

In Ozark English, that "for" has to be there. Because....

1. "I expect the roads to get icy."

This can only mean that you expect it of the roads themselves; you expect those roads, deliberately and of their own volition, to make an effort to become icy and to succeed in that effort.

2. "I expect for the roads to get icy."

This means that you expect iciness on the roads, but you don't expect the roads to bring that condition about on their own, you expect it of Providence.

When an OzE student writes a sentence like "I expect for the roads to get icy" or "I expected for the roads to get icy" or "I was expecting for the roads to get icy," the teacher 99 out of 100 times will red-pencil the "for" and tell the student it shouldn't be there. Which leaves the student baffled, stuck with the task of memorizing the teacher's stipulation that the sequence without "for" is what's required -- like being ordered to memorize "three plus four makes nine" -- and unable either to understand or to explain.

ozarque figure

Linguistics; stylistics; sf poetry being made, 2nd round; part 4...

Untitled water poem -- Draft 9
[Link to Draft 7: ]
[Link to Draft 8: ]

That was the week when Lilani's father was caught and arrested
for two crimes.
First, for the crime of making unauthorized water.
Worst, for showing children one of the ways it's done.
How to dig the hole in the sand;
how to put the cup at the bottom of the hole;
how to lay the sheet of plastic over the top
and weight down its edges all around with stones;
how to set on the plastic the one last stone to make the cone
where the water runs down underneath, into the cup.
"At the end of a long sunny day," he told the children,
"there'll be water in the cup." Unauthorized water.
"Understand," he told them, "and remember.
This water is not crude water.
This water comes from the sun, and is safe to drink."
"If we don't get caught," the children said, "it's safe to drink."
And Lilani's father nodded, saying: "Don't get caught."

When the water police took Lilani's father away,
my own father was furious.
"Damn the man!" my father said.
"Now where am I going to find another butler?"
Myself, I thought, "Where am I going to find
another Lilani?"

That was the week:
when the cheapest water at any decent restaurant
went to forty dollars a bottle;
when TransDeltamerican Airlines doubled the price
of water served on its transatlantic flights;
when statistics for Earthwide water-related deaths
were made exempt from the Freedom of Information Act;
when Congress made the drinking of crude or unauthorized water
a felony, trying to stop the deaths;
when Standard Water Corporation proudly announced
third quarter profits of thirty billion dollars.

And that was the week when we celebrated, dutifully,
my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary.
We sat round our diningroom table together that night;
my parents, and we three dutiful daughters.

There was filet of sole.
There were little tender lettuces, served whole.
There were small potatoes, roasted in olive oil.
There was night-dark chocolate nested in golden foil.
There was a silver platter of sharp cheese.
There was a silver platter of flatbread crusted with seeds.
And there was fine water -- from a very good year --
a separate glass on the table for each one of us.
My father can afford a separate glass
for each one of us.

My mother gave my father a handsome fountain pen,
and a box of slender bottles of waterless ink.
My father gave my mother a golden necklace
strung with a dozen tiny crystal vials,
every vial filled with gleaming water,
pure and and precious and forever shut away.

My sisters said nothing at all. But I’m not like that.
I stood up, and looked straight at my father, and I said to him:
"And does the card read 'Let them drink champagne'?"