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Akuma
07-19-2006, 01:28 AM
I was curious about this. What is exactly the grammatical reason for when someone yells, I don't know, "YOU BASTARD!"

Having no verb that I can see, it's not a sentence, right? But, even if written as, "You, Bastard!" that makes it look more like a command than anything, which it is usually not. ;)

So is it just plain wrong? And who do you think thought it up anyways? It must've have been a bad comeback.
"Oohhhh, you...bastard!"

Please cut my curiousity short, thank you.

Medievalist
07-19-2006, 01:48 AM
I was curious about this. What is exactly the grammatical reason for when someone yells, I don't know, "YOU BASTARD!"

Having no verb that I can see, it's not a sentence, right?

That's sometimes called verb syncope. The verb "to be" is "understood."

You [are] [a] catfish! ---> You catfish!

Chomsky argues that this is an archaic structure, deeply rooted in English and left over from when it was a heavily inflected language.

I think it's more likely related to emotional intensity -- it's not always negative.

You darling!

Note that the speaker and the audience/ the speaker and the subject usually explicit, though you might expect, in some circumstances, for the recipient to reply

"You talkin' to me?"

Silver King
07-19-2006, 03:02 AM
Take it from someone who's been called that enough times to make it sound cliched: In dialogue, no verb is necessary.

Since the term is used almost exclusively when referring to males, I've often wondered what you'd call a female born out of wedlock?

pdr
07-19-2006, 03:56 AM
In Oz everyone's a bastard, we're fairly free with it in NZ too.

Akuma
07-19-2006, 04:00 AM
Take it from someone who's been called that enough times to make it sound cliched: In dialogue, no verb is necessary.

Since the term is used almost exclusively when referring to males, I've often wondered what you'd call a female born out of wedlock?

Easy. Bastardina. :P

Silver King
07-19-2006, 04:45 AM
Bastardina

I like that...very feminine, yet with a hard edge. I was thinking more along the lines of bastardess, but yours is much better.

Any time now, someone will come along and say, "Hey, it doesn't matter whether it's male or female. A bastard has no sex!"

Still, it's fun to make up words.

rekirts
07-19-2006, 04:51 AM
Any time now, someone will come along and say, "Hey, it doesn't matter whether it's male or female. A bastard has no sex!"
NO SEX??? Those poor bastards!

TsukiRyoko
07-22-2006, 03:27 AM
I think it would work, because it's a shortened form of "You are a bastard", wherein "are" acts as a verb.

Shadow_Ferret
07-24-2006, 08:55 PM
Tsuki said what I was going to say.

But I was compelled to post anyway. :)

reph
07-24-2006, 09:32 PM
The explanation doesn't convince me. I don't hear an elided "are a" in "You bastard!"

What about namecalling without the "you"? Someone addressing an opponent in an argument says "Jerk!" or "Creep!" (To forestall the jokes, I'll specify that these are not instructions.) It doesn't seem plausible that the one word is what remains of a ghostly sentence. Similarly, if the neighbor annoyed by youthful noise or vandalism says "Kids today!" or "Those kids!" or just "Kids!" I can't confidently expand that utterance to something that contains a verb and say that the one or two words that were spoken were a short form of the whole thing.

Shadow_Ferret
07-24-2006, 10:03 PM
The explanation doesn't convince me. I don't hear an elided "are a" in "You bastard!"

How would you hear it if they don't say it? Do you hear the p in psychology?

reph
07-24-2006, 10:50 PM
When someone says "psychology," I visualize the P along with the other letters.

In a genuine elision, a listener can fill in the missing words. We all know what's missing from "Went to Fresno today."

aka eraser
07-24-2006, 11:26 PM
Went to Fresno?

Bastardina!

Shadow_Ferret
07-24-2006, 11:31 PM
Went to Fresno today?

The mode of transportation is missing?

What?

reph
07-24-2006, 11:52 PM
Went to Fresno today?

The mode of transportation is missing?

What?Okay, I overgeneralized. Let me correct that: Most of us know what's missing.

smiley10000
07-26-2006, 06:27 AM
The explanation doesn't convince me. I don't hear an elided "are a" in "You bastard!"

What about name calling without the "you"? Someone addressing an opponent in an argument says "Jerk!" or "Creep!" (To forestall the jokes, I'll specify that these are not instructions.) It doesn't seem plausible that the one word is what remains of a ghostly sentence. Similarly, if the neighbor annoyed by youthful noise or vandalism says "Kids today!" or "Those kids!" or just "Kids!" I can't confidently expand that utterance to something that contains a verb and say that the one or two words that were spoken were a short form of the whole thing.

It is most definitely an elided sentence. If it weren't, you would not be able to interpret what was said to you.
English is a "wordy" language. As speakers, we will cut out the extra stuff to conserve words, time, breath, energy, etc.
The construction of "You Bastard!" or "Jerk!" is:
You{are a} Bastard!
You are aJerk!
The fact that all native speakers (outside of pun-humour pieces) agree to this means the words are there even if you don't hear it.
With "kids today" or "Those kids" you are dealing with idioms. (Like "The cats out of the bag")
When a person hears "Kids today". They are able to interpret it as:
Kids today{are so crazy and nothing like we were when we were young}
It is entirely plausible that these are ghosts of sentences because that is exactly what they are. As native speakers of a language we can agree on conventions in the spoken word that would not be acceptable in prescriptive grammar. One of these conventions is removing verb "to be" when paired with an indefinite noun. (Notice you cannot say "You {are the} best.")

At any rate, in dialogue pretty much anything goes. No one really speaks in perfect grammatical sentences. Just be careful about these rules when writing prose...

Good Luck
:) 10000

reph
07-26-2006, 09:55 AM
It is most definitely an elided sentence. If it weren't, you would not be able to interpret what was said to you....

When a person hears "Kids today". They are able to interpret it as:
Kids today{are so crazy and nothing like we were when we were young}
It is entirely plausible that these are ghosts of sentences because that is exactly what they are.I can interpret "Kids today" in the sense of getting the message, but I won't know exactly what words the speaker omitted. Is "Kids today" short for "Kids today are so crazy and nothing like we were when we were young," or is it short for "Kids today have no respect" or "Kids today are so rude and reckless" or any of a thousand other sentences? It's impossible to tell. That's why I don't want to say there's an elision. "Ellipsis" is probably the better word because elision is usually suppression of just one letter. In a real ellipsis, the listener can restore the exact words that were left out.