Wine-buff Víctor de la Serna (via Carlos Ferrero) has nailed Domecq Bodegas for an amusing slip on the otherwise impeccable site, “When did you born?” I haven’t really looked for literary or scientific evidence, and I’m pretty ignorant of non-me dialectal forms, but I’d hazard that this form is actually quite common among some groups of native and non-native English speakers. I can’t work out, though, whether the interrogative classifies the child as object (“When did your mother bear you?”) or subject (“When, ignoring your mother’s groans and your father’s tears, did you decide to leap into this dangerous world?”).
BTW, “did” doesn’t preclude the former – take this intriguing census-operative/citizen exchange from 1970s Gambia:
Q. When did you born this child?
Q. What is “Digi”?
A. Month before “Gamo”?
Q. When was that?
For me this confusion remains in some affirmatives:
I did born blonde & light ash blonde its like a strawberry blonde which i DONT want at all i want a light pretty blonde so should i use a different dye to do after? Not only that the ash i think kinda made it like a little green weird lol. So what dye do i get to take out the strawberry look and greenish lol
However I feel on slightly safer ground in the conversation between Balu and a ghost in I Am Not Intelligent, an extremely curious novel written in Indian English by Oscarbond:
“Who are you?”
“I am Arinchar Anna, the former Chief Minister of Tamilnadu.”
“When did you born?”
“I born on 15-09-1909 in Kanchipuram…”
In various traditions future leaders take charge before they are born. Here’s Joan Baez singing the Cherry-Tree Carol:
Then up spoke Baby Jesus,
from in Mary’s womb:
“Bend down the tallest tree,
that my mother might have some.”
And bent down the tallest branch
till it touched Mary’s hand;
Cried she, “Oh look thou, Joseph,
I have cherries by command.”
Unfortunately no one seems to have studied extensively the infant utterances of superheroes and other chief ministers, and Keith Chen has more serious business at hand. But I wager that sooner or later maternity wards will fill up with a swollen sect muttering grammatical instructions to their unborn – “Say ‘I born myself’ to the nurse, and who knows where you’ll end up!” And at night missionaries of the Church of Chomsky will emerge from the shadows to bore and distract.
- French lessons: Grannie on her bike rides across the pool
Boby Lapointe, an obsessive, deranged comic genius who seems to have drunk himself to death aged 50, points to one of the delicious traps lying in wait for elephants who proceed beyond their French-English phrasebooks – the fact that of the supposed infinity of possible sentences in natural language, most are nonsense:
- Author Translation, a literary translation agency
The excellent Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware, dedicated to exposing literary scams, has discovered Author Translation. This agency appears to specialise in EN->ES at extremely low prices – 0.02$ per translated word is quoted. As Victoria notes, they find English a struggle, but the sample Spanish translation provided (grab) -of an Arthurian romance self-published by one Kim
- Spanish noun-adjective semantic ambiguity
None of the immediate context enables one to say whether the South Tangier refugee relief committee was anxious to grasp Helena Maleno’s breasts à la Egyptienne because they read her as a Spanish prostitute (adjective española classifies noun puta (restrictive)), or as a fucking Spaniard (adjective puta describes more fully the noun española (non-restrictive)):
“All day I’ve faced, the barren waste,
without a taste of…
Can you see that big green tree,
Where the sandwish’s running free,
And it’s waiting there for you and me?”
I do Cool Water with the organ, and it’s a great favourite, but the other day I made the mistake of introducing the mirage song as a