Losing It

“I completely understand — it’s the two greatest players of all time,” Mouratoglou said of the attention. “But I’m really focused on the singles, because my goal is that she [Williams] wins the Australian Open.”

(Ben Rothenberg, “Serena Williams and Roger Federer Face Off for the First Time,” NYTimes, 1-1-19)

I would say “my goal is that she *win* the Australian Open.”

I’m content to publicize this further bit of evidence that the subjunctive mood is on the ropes in English. And why not? What problem does it solve? The speaker quoted, Patrick Mouratoglou, is Serena Williams’s coach. He’s French, and the French equivalent — “qu’elle gagne” — wouldn’t have distinctive present subjunctive marking either. Could that have influenced him to use the indicative in his English statement? To quote James Joyce, “Ask yourself the answer, I’m not giving you a short question.” I surmise that the past subjunctive form would rear its head if he said the French equivalent of “my goal *was* that she win (wins?) the Australian Open.” I forget, however, how to conjugate that particular form in French. Would it be “gagnasse”? I’ve dug myself down a French rabbit hole in pursuit of a fly speck of English trivia.

(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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6 Responses to Losing It

  1. I’m in tangles. I was sure I agreed with you, then thought it sounded like my original dialect, now I’ve read it too much and none if it makes sense! Have just watched Red River. One of the better JW’s – Montgomery Clift gets to punch him in the face. Thinking back, it always seems to be men who like him, I can’t think of one female in my family who ever did. David Niven didn’t mention him in Bring on the empty horses. I like the picture. He looks like it’s on a quick break on set. Is there a yellow theme in your cowboy pictures?

    • JMN says:

      I’m laughing with enjoyment at your intuiting a yellow theme. I can’t resist a jolly dash of color to punch up a cowpoke’s outfit, and yellow often works ironically well! I’m flexible, however. In another painting of JW on horseback I dress him in a smashing blue-violet shirt with contrasting neckerchief. For me he ranks near the bottom of my movie star preferences. Strictly a matter of personal taste. I wouldn’t expect him to have a large female following. His onscreen persona didn’t exude sensitivity or subtlety. I keep thinking of Dorothy Parker’s quip about someone whose range ran the gamut from A to B. Niven’s failure to mention John Wayne in his book seems telling and significant. It occurs to me to mention another screen legend whom I feel much more warmly toward, and that’s Jimmy Stewart. He had range, depth, polish and charisma. Even a sly comic dimension, which was totally beyond JW, I think. In Texas, the Red River is a border with Oklahoma. There are no mountains in its vicinity. I suspect the movie is elsewhere. “In tangles” is vivid. Your original dialect, you say?

  2. Eric Wayne says:

    Not commenting on the grammar. I like this painting, too, though not quite as much as Clint. My first thought was, “…back when this is what being in decent shape looked like”. Since we’ve both elevated our standards of the ideal, and lowered our standards of what is perfectly acceptable and not a very serious medical issue.

    • JMN says:

      I agree with you about the painting, and appreciate your generous assessment of it. I can practically feel old John holding that gut in during the snap. As a young man out of Minnesota he was quite the athlete, the biographies say, but hard living took its toll. I’ve encountered accounts that theorize that actors like Wayne may have been sickened from filming in western states where the atomic bomb tests had taken place. This came up in regards to Pedro Armendariz’s death at age 51. I used to show his film “Flor silvestre” in my Spanish classes.

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