Re: adjectives and adverbs
|From:||Thomas Wier <trwier@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, June 7, 2005, 20:10|
> Charlie wrote:
> > I delight in American regionalisms. I was in Wal-mart the other day
> > and I overheard one woman say to another, "Are you goin' to the
> > pharmacy? That's where I'm a-goin'." I wonder if there's any rule
> > for when this "a-" can be used.
> This was the original form. English got the progressive am ...ing tense
> by saying "I am at ----ing", later shortened to "I am a-...ing" then the
> a was dropped completely in standard English. In some dialects I know
> it's used more often with the most common verbs like go than with
> uncommon verbs I think, and some seem to retain it for all verbs.
It's true that it was the original form, based on a preposition
plus gerund, but the preposition in question was not _aet_ but
_on_. The /n/ was deleted in the same way as it was in many
other constructions, like _afraid_ and _against_ and e.g. _once
a day_ (< _on daege_).
Thomas Wier "I find it useful to meet my subjects personally,
Dept. of Linguistics because our secret police don't get it right
University of Chicago half the time." -- octogenarian Sheikh Zayed of
1010 E. 59th Street Abu Dhabi, to a French reporter.
Chicago, IL 60637