Electronic Paper Cuts
A while back: I was wondering about constructions like “the car needs washed” and “the lawn needs mowed.” I have always preferred “the car needs to be washed” and “the lawn needs to be mowed”—I simply took the former as a short form of the latter. I figured that there might be dialect differences in the U.S. regarding this construction. Was the former considered “wrong?” I asked Mark Louden about it one afternoon, and later that day he provided me with a text (American English: Dialects and Variation. by Walt Wolfram and Natalie Schilling-Estes, Blackwell Publishers, pages 78–9) which explained the phenonmenon rather well.
The construction in question is need + verb, and whether one uses need + verb + ed, need + to be + verb or need + verb + ing:
- The car needs washed.
- The car needs to be washed.
- The car needs washing.
The second form is more common in the U.S., but certain areas, “most notably Western Pennsylvani and Eastern Ohio” (78) use the former construction. Furthermore, the need + verb + ed form is also found in parts of the U.K.
Wolfram and Schilling-Estes continue with the observation that “there is nothing intrinsically more ‘correct’ or more logical about using the -ing form.” (79) In contrast to the need + verb construction, there is the want + verb construction with prefers -ed over -ing throughout the U.S. However, certain parts of England use the -ing version, as in “I want the car washing” (79). Compare this with standard U.S. usage: “I want the car washed.”
The Wolfram and Schilling text—at least this excerpt—does not explain why this is so or how it came to be that one form is preferred, etc. However, it does seem to provide a nice set of examples describing dialect features throughout the U.S., so I guess I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in such things.
While going through my stuff I also found a museum handout / program from the Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) and Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858) exhibition that Andrew and I looked at in January of 2000 (when I was visiting him and Leena in California). They are—according to the program—considered among Japan’s most famous artists. The featured prints have a permanent home in the Honolulu Academy of Arts and were donated by James Michener (the novelist).
The works on display are woodblock prints containing dazzling colors and amazing detail. The styles of the two artist differ greatly, and the prints display travel scenes, city life, and the natural world. As you can see from the program cover, since I was visiting in January, Andrew and I only had a chance to see the Hiroshige prints. I have scanned in a few visual excerpts from the program:
—March 26, 2001
It’s that time again: Time to procastinate (a Friday evening), so with that in mind, let me go through some of the books I have checked out from the university libraries.
- Andreas Gryphius: Werke in drei Bänden mit Ergänzungen. Edited by Hermann Palm. Volume 1. Georg Olms Verlaggbuchhandlung, 1961. [I didn’t want to buy the edition in the bookstore, so I checked this volume of Gyphius’ collected works out of the library. This volume contains his “Lustspiele”—that is, his comedies—and in particular “Herr Peter Squentz oder Absurda comica,” which we are performing this term.]
- Rothfield, Tom. Classical Commedy: Amoury of Laughter, Democracy’s Bastion of Defense. University Press of America, 1999. [I checked this book out because I was going to do a short presentation on Classical (that is, Greek) and German Enlightenment comedy.]
- Gotthold Ephraim Lessing: Werke und Briefe (1767-1769). Edited by Klaus Bohnen. Volume 6. Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1985. [I haven’t really read through the English translations of Lessing, but in my not-so-humble-opinion, Lessing is almost reason enough to learn German. He is clear, witty and often polemical. That is: fun. Of course one can’t agree with all the positions he takes, but his views are often clearly reasoned and his insights are still useful. This volume contains both the play “Minna von Barnhelm” (set during/after the 7 Years War) and the “Hamburgische Dramaturgie,” a collection of essays Lessing wrote while working as a theater critic in Hamburg. They are a combination of reviews and theory. He does a great job of trashing the French.]
- Jakob Michael Rheinhold Lenz: Werke in einem Band. Chosen and commented by Karen Lauer. Carl Hanser Verlag, 1992. [Lenz is a figure of the German “Sturm und Drang” period. He has several important works, including his famous “Anmerkungen übers Theater,” in which he explains why Aristotle and the French are bad. This work predates Goethe’s “Götz,” which is a practical application of many of the ideas expressed by Lenz. In addition, Lenz—like Lessing—is a joy to read.]
- Tepper, Sheri S. Beauty. Doubleday, 1991. [I own several of Tepper’s books; I read my first one on Jacob’s recommendation. I took another with me to Europe last summer. She is insightful and has a nice command of the English language. I haven’t read this one yet.
- —, Gibbon’s Decline and Fall. Bantam, 1996. [I haven’t read this one yet; the title, of course, is a clear reference.]
- —, Grass. Doubleday, 1989. [Haven’t read this one, either, but it has received good reviews. I just haven’t had enough time this semester.]
- Federman, Daniel D. Abnormal Sexual Development: A Genetic and Endocrine Approach to Differential Diagnosis. W.B. Saunders Company, 1968. [This work, while likely in many regards outdated, is still an interesting look at the field of physiological sexual development. Topics covered include (modified from the Table of Contents):
I find this work rather useful in several regards. While not encyclopedic, it provides good descriptive coverage of a variety of topics, and for those looking for medical information on Hermaphroditism and Pseudohermaphroditism it is a good starting point.]
- Normal Sexual Differentiation
- Cellular Division and the Production of Errors
- Kleinfelter’s Syndrome
- Gonadal Dysgenesis (Turner’s Syndrome)
- True Hermaphroditism
- Male Pseudohermaphroditism
- Female Pseudohermaphroditism
- Functions of the Sex Chromosomes
- And a variety of other things ...
- Baumann, Hermann. Das Doppelte Geschlecht: Ethnologische Studien zur Bisexualitä in Ritus und Mythos. Dietrich Reimer, 1955. [Compared to the Federman text this one is clearly outdated, but it, too, is still useful. In particular, it provides a rather comprehensive cross-cultural look at the topic of bisexuality and hermaphroditism. It specifically looks at myths and rituals; not at the medical literature.]
- Herculine Barbin: Being the Recently Discovered Memoirs of a Nineteenth-Century French Hermaphrodite. Trans. Richard McDougall. (Introduced by Michel Foucault) Pantheon, 1980. [I first read this as a freshman in college; this book provides the memoirs, further biographical and historical data, and the story “A Scandal at the Convent.”]
- Siebenbürgen zur Zeit der Römer und der Völkerwanderung Edited by Wolfgang Schuller. In the series “Siebenbürgisches Archiv.” Böhlau, 1994. [This is one of several books I checked out because it relates to my interest in the “Völkerwanderung” or “Migration of Peoples” that spans the fall of the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages. This particular book focuses on Transylvania, and covers the Romans, Dacians, Avars, and early Slavs. Interesting stuff.]
- Perowne, Stewart. The End of the Roman World. Hodder and Stoughton, 1966. [Another book to inform me about the end of the Roman period. Everyone wants to focus on Rome; I want to focus on the various barbarian tribes. This book, more a chronology of sorts than anything else, seems to be light reading.]
- Wolfram, Herwig. The Roman Empire and Its Germanic Peoples. Trans. Thomas Dunlap. University of California Press, 1990. [A slightly more recent book than the previous one, yet with similar types of stuff—albeit more detailed.]
- Saks, Edgar V. Esto-Europa: A Treatise on the Finno-Ugric Primary Civilization in Europe Verlag Voitleja, 1966. [One of several books I checked out on old Finno-Ugric stuff. It’s hard to find good materials; I’m still not convinced this book is “good material.” The author contends that a Finno-Ugric “base” civilizatin predates various Indo-European groups in Europe. He further argues that the Vandals were not Germanic in origin, but Finno-Ugric. Since I haven’t read the whole book, I can’t report how convincing it is; however, on the one hand it reminds one a bit of the anti-Indo-European stuff you hear from folks such as Edo Nyland, and on the other hand it does connect at least tangentially with the evidence that during the change from “Proto Indo-European” to “Proto-Germanic,” the Germanic peoples encountered a large non-Indo-European group (evidenced by the large number of non-Indo-European words in Proto-Germanic / Germanic).]
- A History of Hungary. Editors Peter F. Sugar, Péter Hanák and Tibor Frank. Indiana University Press, 1990. [This is a relatively large and comprehensive history of Hungary, going back to the Middle Ages and even the Hungarian migration to Europe. On a side note: I ran across a really thick volume at the library that was devoted entirely to documenting the opposition (primarily by Hungarian-Americans; mostly those who left after 1956, I expect) to returning the crown of Saint István to Hungary. Insane.]
- Hajdu, Peter. Finno-Ugrian Languages and Peoples. Trans. G.F. Cushing. Andre Deutsch, 1975. [A linguistic—to the extent possible—approach to providing a history and categorization of the Finno-Ugric peoples. Although a bit old, still quite fascinating. It also documents probable early loan words from Indo-European. Cool.]
- Vuorela, Toivo. The Finno-Ugric Peoples. Trans. John Atkinson. Indiana University Press, 1964. [My final Finno-Ugric book for now, this one simply goes through a list of Finno-Ugric peoples. It includes a wide variety of information, and functions as a sort of encyclopedia.]
I also did a lot of homework for Greek tonight (all the drills for unity 17, plus 4–5 of the translations from the first set of exercises). A lot of music was listened to, and a goodly amount of wine was had. What more can one ask for? I’m still behind, though—tomorrow must be devoted to learning my lines. And then ... to finish it off ... just as I was finishing up brushing my teeth [nightly ritual, you know], Laura knocked on my door. She was wondering whether I wanted to go get food. At this hour? [12:30 am] Um. No. So, that concludes Friday, and a wee bit of Saturday.
—April 7, 2001
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