Neil asked my question for me. Also, if English was going to develop periphrastic 'do' on a Celtic model, one may have expected a wider use of gerunds (i.e. verbal nouns) in this construction and not bare infinitive forms (which are much much less nominal than gerunds).
So, instead of 'Do you see him?'
One might have expected 'Do you seeing of him?'
----- Original Message ----
From: Neil McLeod <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Friday, March 20, 2009 8:03:00 PM
Subject: Re: [OLD-IRISH-L] dogni+VN (McWhorter)
Dennis King wrote:
> Kai-Oliver Geisler wrote:
>> "Ich tu' mal das Fenster zumachen"
>> or: "Tust Du heute noch die Wäsche abnehmen?"
> McWhorter writes that "in many colloquial dialects of Germanic languages, one can use 'do' in a way kind of like English's meaningless 'do'."
> He claims, however, that compared to English, this usage "is something quite different", as follows:
> 1. "For one, German's version is optional. One might say 'Er tut das screiben,' but the simple 'Er schreibt das' is also alive and well, and in fact, much more usual."
> 2. "Then, most importantly, meaningless 'do' is meaningless, but German's 'do' is meaningful. It is used when you want to emphasize some part of the sentence." He goes on to illustrate this. Whether or not this argument is accurate is up to you native speakers of German dialects to determine.
> 3. "History of English specialists seem to suppose that it's just that English merely drifted one step beyond German's 'do' -- making it required instead of optional. But if that were so natural, so same-old same-old, then surely it would have happened in some other Germanic language sometime [...] surely some small dialect of something somewhere -- some villagers in the northern reaches of Sweden, some farmers down in some Dutch dell, some Yiddish speakers in a shtetl -- somebody, somewhere would have come up with their own meaningless 'do' just by virtue of shitte happening. But they haven't." But (as to 1 and 3 at least), if it is also optional in Celtic, how does that help?