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Electronic Paper Cuts

Part 4

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 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.

Program Cover

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.

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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