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--- On Sun, 11/11/12, R A Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> > Woe "are" we?
> >
> > Vulgar English?? ;)
> 
> No, archaic or dialect English.  I was using _woe_ as
> an adjective (cf. Happy are we .... sad are they .... etc.);
> but according to my dictionary, the use of _woe_ as an
> adjective is archaic and dialect.

Fair enough! But woer am I for not knowing!, but now knowing, feel the
less woesome!

> >>> Avantimannish follows the Germanic pattern of
> woe +
> >>> dative (with or sans verb): Beouten them wes
> wa! =
> >>> but woe were them... (Aesop);
> >>
> >> :)
> >
> > Er, I think I got that right...
> >
> > Let's see -- was the issue "wes"? That's the Av. past
> > sing subjunctive of, er, wesen, just as "were" is the
> > past subj. of be in English. The plural would be
> > "weson".
> 
> Yep - _were_ is the subjunctive, and just about hangs on in
> _if_ clauses, e.g. "If I were you, I'd ...".

Right. I don't even hear it much in those clauses anymore.

> But neither the indicative "woe was them" or the
> subjunctive
> "woe were them [if ...]" sound well-formed (even though in
> theory it is).  But then the 'correct' "woe is us" does
> not sound particularly well-formed.

Sound okay to me. If woe can be me, why not thee or them? And if woe can
come now, why not then? ;)

> The well-established "woe is me" is found in both
> Shakespeare and the King James Version, so we must accept
> such worthy authorities.  

Naturally.

> But, as Patrick points out above,
> the oblique case pronoun in these expression is a survival
> of the *dative* - and nothing to do with the perennial
> question of whether one 'should' say "It is I" or "It is
> me."

Quite. I don't recall saying it does -- but I could have come in after
that bit!

For what it's worth, I avoid the whole "it is I" v. "it is me" thing by
responding "who are you?" or "what do you want?" -- I know!, terrible
phone manners, but given that 95% of the calls I receive are people trying
to sell things or scam money, I don't feel particularly bad about it.

> Of course sensible languages like Welsh have dropt all the
> nonsense of nominative & oblique forms of pronouns, so
> we don't have that fuss with "ach y fi"

Seems that English is not too terribly far behind! -- "Him and me went to
the store" sort of thing.

> We seem to be chasing shadows   :)

Tis what we do best!

> Ray

Padraic