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Dick and Jane

Posted by Smokey Stover on March 01, 2004

In Reply to: Dick and Jane posted by Bruce Kahl on February 29, 2004

: : : : : Would you please explain this picture? (Several words are enough, please don't trouble yourself to write an abundant answer.)

: : : : At one time english grammar was taught in an almost mathematical sense.
: : : : Teachers would break a sentence into parts--subject, predicate or verb and object. These pieces were placed on a line with a "|" separating the pieces from each other.
: : : : The illustration, which I posted orginally, is not a good one since it it a bit complicated for esl.
: : : : The sentence above is "See spot run".
: : : : The you is understood so is put in parenthesis.

: : : : This is better:
: : : : I hit Jim.
: : : : The diagram is;
: : : : I | hit | Jim

: : : : Hope this explains it.
: : : : b

: : : But what about the picture? A teacher and a running cow? (sheep?)

: : : And what does "See spot run" mean?

: : The mid to late 50s here in the US saw an elementary reading primer entitled "The Dick and Jane Series".
: : It was a series of very simple reading exercises with sentences such as " See Dick run" or "I see Jane".
: : Dick and Jane were the parents and they had kids (I think )and a dog named Spot.
: : So the cartoon is an illustrated example of that reading series.
: : The animal is a dog on a leash and he is running, hence "See spot run".

: Great shot of Spot and Sally.

I'm way out of practice on diagramming sentences, and I know we used a somewhat different diagramming technique. So I'm guessing somewhat. The main clause is on the horizontal line, starting with the subject. This one, thank God, has no modifiers, so it's just written down, followed by an above-and-below-the-line vertical line. The verb (the most important part of the predicate and here also without modifiers) follows, with an above-the-line vertical separaing it from what, if anything, follows. Here what follows is the direct object, which in this case is a noun clause. Since it's a clause it needs its own horizontal line, so a connector in the shape of an inverted Y leads from the predicate space up to it. (Darn, I can't see the picture from here.) The verb of the clause is an infinitive, i.e., (to) run, which is indicated by a mark we never used back in elementary school. (Our teacher didn't know what to do with infinitives.) The subject of the main clause, You, is put between parentheses (it could have been brackets) to show that it is not actually written down, but understood, which is always the case with the imperative mood. The imperative mood means that the verb is a command, and is normally understood as a command to you, the person who is being addressed. Whoever is reading this, YOU, I command you to see Spot running. And yes, Spot is a dog, not a sheep, which we know primarily because the blackboard to which the teacher is pointing says so. Some languages have means to use a third-person imperative. In English, and sometimes these languages, it's actually the subjunctive mood which does duty as an imperative in these cases.