5

In which varieties of English is it common to front predicates as in the following sentence?

Bought a nice house, he did.

In which pragmatic contexts is this done in these varieties?

  • 1
    Yoda-speak, perhaps? – prash Feb 26 '12 at 18:40
  • 1
    I think it's particularly common in some regional varieties in England and maybe beyond in the UK. We say things like that in Australia too but nowhere near as often as I hear from some British people I meet. – hippietrail Feb 27 '12 at 9:24
7

All the varieties I know. I don't think it's regional, or varietal; it's just conversational, a sort of syntactic equivalent of Fast Speech Rules.

I suspect it's just an afterthought tag for Conversationally Deleted sentences like the ones Thrasher treats in his dissertation (Thrasher, Randolph H. Jr. 1974. Shouldn't Ignore These Strings: A Study of Conversational Deletion, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor). I posted about it on Linguist List here, here, and here.

That is, "Bought a nice house" is derivable, in context, from "He bought a nice house" by Conversational Deletion, and — in some cases, and if the speaker wishes — may be clarified at the end with a tag, whence the Do-Support.

Some other examples, derived from examples in Thrasher:

  • Gotta go now. ~ Gotta go now, I do.
  • See you next Tuesday. ~ See you next Tuesday, I will.
  • Too bad about old Charlie. ~ Too bad about old Charlie, it was.
  • Been in Ann Arbor long? ~ Been in Ann Arbor long, have you?
  • Ever get a chance to use your Dogrib? ~ Ever get a chance to use your Dogrib, do you?

This doesn't work in every case of Conversational Deletion, since not every deleted initial sequence can form an appropriate tag:

  • No need to get upset about it. ~ *No need to get upset about it, there is.
  • Last person I expected to meet was John. ~ *Last person I expected to meet was John, the.
| improve this answer | |
4

It's fairly common in Welsh English, particularly in the South. Usually done for emphasis such as "Fed up, I am". You can find more about it in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.