Subject: Re: bird-encounter verbs Date: Apr 27 10:34:50 1995 From: Don Baccus - donb at Rational.COM
Dennis Paulson the knowledgable, and honorary member of the Language Police:
>"I had 30 Bohemian Waxwings in my >yard" is somehow just a little more than "I saw 30 Bohemian Waxwings in my >yard." No one would say "I had Joe downtown last week." "I had" is not >the same as "I saw," and that's really the only point I wanted to make.
I agree with you wholeheartedly. When I'm banding hawks, saying "I had a redtail this morning" means I really HAD it, in hand, in the can, weight, measured, banded then outta there. We might use "had" in the phrase "we had a redtail come in the station" which seems to fit common usage, without implying possession though perhaps "a redtail came in the station" is more clear.
But to use "I had" as a replacement for "I saw" seems strange indeed.
On the other hand, when speaking we constantly use shortcuts, phrases, syntax and even a vocabulary that is inappropriate in written language.
Indeed, one might argue from the linguistic point of view (I'm a compiler writer with a background in formal linguistics) that written and spoken language are really not exactly the same, subspecies if you will. Certainly a parser which wants to flag ungrammatical written usage must reject many common forms used in speech - which is exactly what a good (human) editor often does.
>"Lighten up, Dennis."
Ah, you already brighten our day. Any more light might be overload!