Wednesday, March 14, 2012

You down with 3PP?

Little Girl: Daddy, what are they doin'?
Me: Fodiunt.
Little Girl (to Little Boy): They're fodiunt our yard.
"They're fodiunt"? Something seems wrong about that. To me anyway. Maybe not to you since you don't speak Latin. I would've been ok with "they fodiunt our yard", but that's not what she said. I find that really puzzling. (Well, probably only because I don't know much about code switching.)

Here's why I thought "they're fodiunt" was badly formed, but "they fodiunt" would be ok.
Yeah, we're down with 3PP—3rd person Plural Present. Yeah, you know me. Sorry. My point is that fodiunt is complete as is. I understand why Little Girl wanted to add a they to fodiunt: you need an explicit subject. They fits the bill. But she didn't stop there. She added 're to they.

Now, I'm aware that we really like our present progressive in English. In fact, it can be difficult to avoid it. I suspect that's what Little Girl was falling victim to. Before you jump and say that she doesn't understand Latin, you can be sure she knows how the present tense works. There may be some light confusion about some contrafactual conditions or tricky participles, but the present tense is well understood.

If I knew some Spanish speakers who readily code switched, I might be able to see how they say it and not be so curious. Which would be better?
They excavan our yard.
They're excavan our yard.
I probably ought to add this, since Spanish also has a present progressive.
They estan excavando our yard.
So, if you're a native Spanish-speaker who code switches with English, which do you prefer? Could you tell me why?