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Would of

A forum for discussing US dialects (accents).

Would of

Postby Mama » Wed May 10, 2006 8:26 pm

People in PA say if you would of done your job right, I wouldn't of hollered at you. And if I had of known that, I wouldn't of done it that way.
Whatever happened to the words had/have?
Is this the dumbing down of America, or this just another regional thing?
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Postby Perry » Thu May 11, 2006 3:45 pm

Mightent those quoted have been using a contraction for would have, i.e. would've?
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Would've?

Postby Mama » Thu May 11, 2006 4:37 pm

It could've, if it hadn't've been written down and misspelled.
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Re: Would of

Postby frank » Thu May 11, 2006 6:12 pm

Mama wrote:People in PA say if you would of done your job right, I wouldn't of hollered at you. And if I had of known that, I wouldn't of done it that way.
Whatever happened to the words had/have?
Is this the dumbing down of America, or this just another regional thing?

I have no idea why 'of' would be smarter or dumber than 'have'. Or why 'have' would be smarter/dumber than Middle English 'haven', or Old English 'habban'...

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Re: Would of

Postby Bailey » Thu May 11, 2006 7:06 pm

frank wrote:I have no idea why 'of' would be smarter or dumber than 'have'. Or why 'have' would be smarter/dumber than Middle English 'haven', or Old English 'habban'...

Frank

Maybe because 'would have' is a future conditional verb phrase, so a preposition that needs a determiner is clearly out-of-place. The former is proper Engish grammar and the latter is not.

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Re: Would of

Postby frank » Fri May 12, 2006 3:33 am

frank wrote:I have no idea why 'of' would be smarter or dumber than 'have'. Or why 'have' would be smarter/dumber than Middle English 'haven', or Old English 'habban'...


Mark:
Maybe because 'would have' is a future conditional verb phrase, so a preposition that needs a determiner is clearly out-of-place. The former is proper Engish grammar and the latter is not.


The word 'of' in the expression 'would of' clearly is not a prepostition, but a written variant of 'have' (which happens to look like 'of', the preposition'), a written reflex of 'have' in a colloquial expression, in which 'have' has no stress at all. And it seems to fit well in the series habban, haven, have on the one hand and have, 've, on the other one.
I don't say i like this kind of writing, but i wonder why it is getting the label 'dumb'.

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Would of

Postby Mama » Fri May 12, 2006 12:38 pm

Well, I don't believe it is correct English, variant or otherwise. Besides, it isn't right to say, if I would've, when you should be using if I had've. You could say I would have done it , but I didn't get the chance. But since it wasn't done right, it would read If I had've done it right, I would not have been scolded.
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Postby Brazilian dude » Fri May 12, 2006 1:18 pm

Nope, you have a plupluperfect there:

If I had done it right, I would not have been scolded.

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Oops!

Postby Mama » Fri May 12, 2006 2:06 pm

So you could have had had in a sentence, or have had, but not had have. As in, I had had a bad day on Thursday, and was in no mood to talk about it. Or I have had a headache all week. But not "if I had have" done something. It's just if I had. But I could say would have. I would've done that if I hadn't had a bad day, and a headache all week.
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Postby Bailey » Fri May 12, 2006 3:52 pm

Frank,
because when I graded papers some people really spelled it 'would of" they clearly believe they are saying would of and that's what we call ignorant, or dumb. 'of' is not a varient have it is just *WRONG*

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Postby frank » Fri May 12, 2006 4:23 pm

Bailey wrote:because when I graded papers some people really spelled it 'would of" they clearly believe they are saying would of and that's what we call ignorant, or dumb. 'of' is not a varient have it is just *WRONG*

As said before, it's a written reflex of colloquial speech (see below). And yes, i agree that as such it must be corrected in a text that is supposed to be written in standard English.

My points are slightly different:
- why considering a variant that is not standard English as 'bad English' (as opposed to bad standard English). This would be the same as calling a chiwawa a bad dashund. I mean, it's two different kinds.
- why considering people who speak / write non-standard English 'dumb'. Do we call people who speak / write standard English correctly, smart? Don't think so...

But yes, again, i do agree that in a formal, written text, such non-standard usage has to be pointed out and corrected.

And, oh, as a teacher myself, i think there are better incentives for the students than calling them ignorant and dumb, only because they make a rather silly mistake in writing, no?

Frank

PS:
COULD OF, SHOULD OF, WOULD OF
This is one of those errors typically made by a person more familiar with the spoken than the written form of English. A sentence like “I would have gone if anyone had given me free tickets” is normally spoken in a slurred way so that the two words “would have” are not distinctly separated, but blended together into what is properly rendered "would’ve.” seeing that “V” tips you off right away that “would’ve” is a contraction of “would have.” But many people hear “would of” and that’s how they write it. Wrong.
Note that “must of” is similarly an error for “must have.”
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Postby Brazilian dude » Fri May 12, 2006 6:41 pm

Do we call people who speak / write standard English correctly, smart? Don't think so...

I do!

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Postby Stargzer » Sat May 13, 2006 12:53 am

There's a world of difference between being smart and being educated. A friend of mine once had a neighbor with a Master's Degree who spoke fluent French. On night, one very cold night, Brain Boy, who had recenty had a wood stove installed, decided to save electricity and turned the heat off, not down, and cranked up the wood stove. The stove ran out of fuel in the middle of the night, and the next morning Dave watched as his neighbor held the front door of his house open so all the water from the frozen pipes that had burst could run out onto the porch.

He shoulda turned the heat down to no less than 40 degrees (Fahrenheit) so it coulda kicked in to keep the temperature just above freezing.
Regards//Larry

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Postby Stargzer » Sat May 13, 2006 2:08 am

Speaking of colloquial speech . . .

There was a period in American Literature called the Local Color Movement, typified by the works of Mark Twain and Bret Harte, which used various mispellings to convey the actual speech pattern of a character.

In these excerpts from Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain at Gutenberg, Twain explains the dialects used, Huck surprises the slave Jim, who believes Huck was killed (after Huch faked his own death), and Jim tells Huck about his daughter.

EXPLANATORY

IN this book a number of dialects are used, to wit: the Missouri negro dialect; the extremest form of the backwoods Southwestern dialect; the ordinary "Pike County" dialect; and four modified varieties of this last. The shadings have not been done in a haphazard fashion, or by guesswork; but painstakingly, and with the trustworthy guidance and support of personal familiarity with these several forms of speech.

I make this explanation for the reason that without it many readers would suppose that all these characters were trying to talk alike and not succeeding.

THE AUTHOR.


Pretty soon he gapped and stretched himself and hove off the blanket, and it was Miss Watson's Jim! I bet I was glad to see him. I says:

"Hello, Jim!" and skipped out.

He bounced up and stared at me wild. Then he drops down on his knees, and puts his hands together and says:

"Doan' hurt me--don't! I hain't ever done no harm to a ghos'. I alwuz liked dead people, en done all I could for 'em. You go en git in de river agin, whah you b'longs, en doan' do nuffn to Ole Jim, 'at 'uz awluz yo' fren'."

Well, I warn't long making him understand I warn't dead. I was ever so glad to see Jim. I warn't lonesome now. I told him I warn't afraid of HIM telling the people where I was. I talked along, but he only set there and looked at me; never said nothing. Then I says:

"It's good daylight. Le's get breakfast. Make up your camp fire good."

"What's de use er makin' up de camp fire to cook strawbries en sich truck? But you got a gun, hain't you? Den we kin git sumfn better den strawbries."

"Strawberries and such truck," I says. "Is that what you live on?"

"I couldn' git nuffn else," he says.

"Why, how long you been on the island, Jim?"

"I come heah de night arter you's killed."

"What, all that time?"

"Yes--indeedy."

"And ain't you had nothing but that kind of rubbage to eat?"

"No, sah--nuffn else."

"Well, you must be most starved, ain't you?"

"I reck'n I could eat a hoss. I think I could. How long you ben on de islan'?"

"Since the night I got killed."

"No! W'y, what has you lived on? But you got a gun. Oh, yes, you got a gun. Dat's good. Now you kill sumfn en I'll make up de fire."


But this time I somehow got to talking to him about his wife and young ones; and by and by he says:

"What makes me feel so bad dis time 'uz bekase I hear sumpn over yonder on de bank like a whack, er a slam, while ago, en it mine me er de time I treat my little 'Lizabeth so ornery. She warn't on'y 'bout fo' year ole, en she tuck de sk'yarlet fever, en had a powful rough spell; but she got well, en one day she was a-stannin' aroun', en I says to her, I says:

"'Shet de do'.'

"She never done it; jis' stood dah, kiner smilin' up at me. It make me mad; en I says agin, mighty loud, I says:

"'Doan' you hear me? Shet de do'!'

"She jis stood de same way, kiner smilin' up. I was a-bilin'! I says:

"'I lay I MAKE you mine!'

"En wid dat I fetch' her a slap side de head dat sont her a-sprawlin'. Den I went into de yuther room, en 'uz gone 'bout ten minutes; en when I come back dah was dat do' a-stannin' open YIT, en dat chile stannin' mos' right in it, a-lookin' down and mournin', en de tears runnin' down. My, but I WUZ mad! I was a-gwyne for de chile, but jis' den--it was a do' dat open innerds--jis' den, 'long come de wind en slam it to, behine de chile, ker-BLAM!--en my lan', de chile never move'! My breff mos' hop outer me; en I feel so--so--I doan' know HOW I feel. I crope out, all a-tremblin', en crope aroun' en open de do' easy en slow, en poke my head in behine de chile, sof' en still, en all uv a sudden I says POW! jis' as loud as I could yell. SHE NEVER BUDGE! Oh, Huck, I bust out a-cryin' en grab her up in my arms, en say, 'Oh, de po' little thing! De Lord God Amighty fogive po' ole Jim, kaze he never gwyne to fogive hisself as long's he live!' Oh, she was plumb deef en dumb, Huck, plumb deef en dumb--en I'd ben a-treat'n her so!"
Regards//Larry

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Postby beck123 » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:27 am

This is my first post on Alpha Agora, so please be kind.

Concerning the "would have-would of" issue, I'm curious to know what grade level you were teaching, Mark, when you saw "would of" written out. If we accept "would've" as a proper contraction for (the proper) "would have," then "would of" seems to be a reasonable phonetic spelling of that contraction, and probably the source of the written localism through back construction. "Would've" sounds like "would of" anywhere it's spoken, even today, so it isn't surprising that this change appeared in rural parts of the country over the years.

My position on this topic of regional dialects is that regional dialects are more than proper - they are essential and thus desirable - in spoken English, but have no place in written English or the spoken English used in extraregional or national oulets, except when used for effect.

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Beck

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