Speaking of Vlad and Kiera

circadian rhyme rone at ennui.org
Sat Feb 22 12:34:52 PST 2003

Mark A Mandel writes:
  Yeah. How in hell do English-speakers manage to say "He's gone" without
  the absolutely vital grammatical distinctions between the degrees of
  certainty implied by "I saw him leave", "I saw him put his coat on and
  then I heard the door open and close", "Somebody told me he'd left", and
  "I haven't seen him for an hour"? No joke: there are languages where
  you can't avoid these distinctions any more than you can avoid verb
  tense or biological pronoun gender in English.
It depends on the question, eh?  I wouldn't use "he's gone" for any of
the above except the first.  I would consider that sloppy speaking.
More vague is, "He isn't here," which could mean "he left while i was
here" or "he wasn't here when i got here", but if someone wants that
level of granularity by asking, "Is he there?" that's unfair.  So i
don't think it's English's fault.

"Alan Alda's all we are."
	- Kurt Cobain