Sometimes at the ESL summer camp that I’m working at this year, the kids can write unintentionally rich sentences. Their homework the other day was to write what they would do if they had all the food in the world. One eager lad immediately wrote down “I am eat all food,” which made me think of Oppenheimer and his Bhagavad Gita quote, “Now, I am become death, destroyer of worlds.”
Working there has reminded me that my Southern use of irregular verbs is probably going to have to stop or at least to be curtailed if I’m going to keep professing for a living. I try to be good, but it’s hard to break a lifetime of habit, especially when day-to-day it doesn’t matter much and everyone else ’round these parts is not much better. “I’ve eaten” escapes my lips as often as “I’ve ate,” “I would like” is not nearly as frequent as “I like to ‘of,” and my personal favorite, “I like to ‘ve would ‘of, but I ain’t gonna” appears at least biweekly, not to mention “I done that” and the misuse of drove and wrote. I also contantly mix up read and write to the point of Spoonerism.
I am an ardent supporter of y’all, however.