Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Be that as it May

The following message comes to us from LRH, all the way on the west coast. You can email your submissions to lioracle at gmail dot com.

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the 4th annual celebration of National Subjunctive Month!

Hard to believe, but it was back in 2003 when I unilaterally declared for the first time that, come what may, each May from here on out would be marked as a celebration of subjunctives in every language. Why did I do this? Well, I noted that English by and large lacks a subjunctive--that "mood" which in other languages is used to express desire, hope, or uncertainty, and is employed for various and sundry grammatical purposes. Rather, in addition to some vestigial subjunctives like "I wish I were" and "Truth be told," English sometimes uses various constructions of the word "MAY" to express what other languages might express in the subjunctive mood (come what may, be that as it may, may the force be with you). Desiring to carve out some space to honor this much negelected mood, I thought May might be fitting.

Mighty May has returned! And it is time to celebrate with what has become an annual tradition on this ever growing and ever more national (and international) list. I ask you to dig deep inside your minds and send me back some combination of the following:

--Recall your favorite examples of subjunctive usage or misusage in English or other languages. (My longstanding favorite is from a goofy ad for Clorox bleach on the top of a cab, proclaiming, "if this cab was a floor, we'd clean it.")

--Provide explanations of how the subjunctive works in your particular obscure (or non-obscure) foreign language.

--Provide your bits of subjunctive thoughts about the year behind us or the year to come.
(I define "subjunctive thoughts" broadly: Subjunctive thoughts might start like this: "If only..." "I wish..." "I wonder..." These can be subjective, subversive, sublime, and/or subpar...)

The deadline for submissions is May 31 at midnight. On June 1 (or shortly thereafter), I'll send out a compilation of our collective subjunctive wisdom of 2006 to those who decide to participate in the festivities.

Thank you and happy May,


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