What We Have Here Is an Influencing Situation

The Airprox board said this, combined with a lack of visual warning, had resulted in “a significant and largely unmitigated safety risk” and recommended that RAF Air Command uses a system to receive notification of commercial drone operations.

(BBC News, “Suffolk farm drone in near-miss with Tornado jet,” 12-24-18)

In the above text I would write (and say) “use” instead of “uses,” substituting subjunctive mood for indicative mood. The verb in question is in a subordinate noun clause depending on a main verb “recommended.” It’s a case of an “influencing” statement. The subjunctive helps convey that the action in the subordinate clause is theoretical and not factual. I wonder if other English speakers feel as strongly as I do that subjunctive must be enforced in this sort of utterance.

(c) 2018 JMN

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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16 Responses to What We Have Here Is an Influencing Situation

  1. Eric Wayne says:

    I instantly recognized that as one of your paintings when it came up in my reader. Nicely done. Like the detail on the scarf. I gather this is from a movie still, and that’s Clint? Quite enjoy this painting, and hope to see more.

    • JMN says:

      Your comment makes my day! Thanks so much! It is indeed old Clint, undoubtedly a movie still, though I’m not sure which one. I hope to do some new and fresh work (for me) when I return from Spain. I’ve been too clobbered by microbes here to do much.

  2. I will be honest and say, not ‘strongly’ and only when it’s pointed out to me

    • JMN says:

      The “strongly” marks me as a smug pedant in language matters. It’s just a pose, but uncomfortably convincing in hindsight. The image of Eastwood’s steely gaze and rifle demanded an assertive stance! I have a clinical interest in grammar trivia, but I’m philosophical about how people use their own language, and usage evolves continually, norms change. What’s “correct” is a moving standard. My awareness of moods was instilled through study of other languages which have them clearly marked. In English they’re mostly gone. The most genuine part of my post is an interest in the perception of other English speakers where a particular construction is involved. Opportunities to pose such questions are few and far between, however, except for working linguists doing field research. Your honest response is greatly appreciated by this armchair linguist! Addled, perhaps, by the antibiotic, I’m going to press my luck and pose one followup to you in the same vein: (1) “If I was/were you I’d be careful.” (2) “He acts as if he was/were king of the world.” Preferences?

      • Definately ‘were’ in both if spoken. (Rest of family agree). Probably wouldn’t notice ‘was’ so much if written down by someone else. Thinking about longer reply. May email you instead. Happy New Year. Always interesting to chat with you!

      • JMN says:

        Concurs with my preferences, but I think it’s becoming a split decision in these “as if” expressions. No “right”answer. I note your distinction between spoken and written. It’s a clue that our ears may pick up on something differently sometimes. And Happy New Year to you and yours. As with your art, I’m enjoying our chats immensely. Email is most welcome. I take it the address is available? Happy to share if not.

      • I know I have been contacted by email before, so I think it’s something wordpress will have put somewhere on the site. Will let you know if not. These language/discussions have brought up lots of contradictions in my thinking that I’ll share a little less publically. In the past, I was often told I wrote the same way as I spoke. It was seen as a positive and a negative. University, office and constant reading have offered an alternative style. I find texting and commenting on wordpress much harder than I’m sure it’s meant to be! Hope you start to feel better soon by the way and meant to say – loved the Eastwood painting! Have you a Robert Mitchum to share?

      • JMN says:

        Your compliment of the painting is thrilling. I hope to earn more with future efforts. I’d love to do a Mitchum — he of the broad shoulders. Another actor with brawny charisma. I’m sure he did a western or two, but I don’t recall one of his featured on the list. I associate him more with the tough-guy, film noir, romantically irresistible kind of role. “A positive and a negative,” you say. The background you allude to is intriguing. In my own stabs at writing I’ve been long interested in the interplay between spoken and written language. I hope to discuss this more. Anecdotally, I’m back on my feet and hope to stay that way. Have yet to make it through another week of marathon, food-centric festivities. (Serious gifting comes with “Reyes” — Kings’ or Wise Men’s Day — on January 6!)

      • Actually, I can’t find your email. Have you an email address you can share?

      • Got it. You can delete that now if you want

      • I’d got into my head he was in My Darling Clementine, but of course that’s Victor Mature. Have definately seen him in a cowboy hat sometime though. I’m planning a post of westerns. See if I can drum up some more suggestions. Can I use one of your paintings as an image? I will reference you and link back to your site.

      • JMN says:

        Gosh, that would be fantastic! You have carte blanche to use any image of mine. You thought Mitchum was in My Darling Clementine? I know that title vaguely, but haven’t seen the film. I do remember Victor Mature from childhood viewings of biblical movies. He played Samson in one. I can’t remember another. Never saw him in a western. My grandmother was a pious lady and took me to see more than one of the Cecil B. DeMille (sp?) epics, including one called “The Robe.”

      • JMN says:

        By the way, looking forward to your post of westerns.

      • It will just be a list, but I like lists

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