Tag Archives: Language

What if the Sun were blue?

12 Feb

English DictionaryThe English language is a wonderful thing, baby. Seriously, we love it. It’s so rich and complex and random and such. We like it even better as it gets looser and warmer. We love the breadth, the depth, the weirdness, the sublime. It has what appear to be multiple words for exactly the same thing, but are not … or maybe they are, just in case you want some variety. The slight twist of a phrase, the placement of a verb, the brevity and the expansion of tale … mmm-mmm good.

Yes, other languages are packed with beautiful and powerful elements that set them apart too. But see, that’s where those languages lose their steam. Why? Because English loves everything good that any other language has to offer. Given time, a special word or phrase in another language will end up in he English lexicon. As writer James Nicholl puts it: “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle [sic] their pockets for new vocabulary.” (from a Usenet post he wrote in 1990).

Yeah, but …

In spite of our love and fascination with the language, we’re still stumped all the time by conjugations, particularly the subjunctive. So, we wondered what the answer would be if the Sun was blue but ended up no closer to the truth when we wondered instead if the Sun were blue.

And on that note …

A picture of the sun in blue color

Fortunately, Grammar Girl has come to the rescue. We even read most of the article for a change. Here she explains when to use “was” vs. when to use “were.”

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