Thursday, November 05, 2009

Comes and Goes

The choice between come and go is often tricky because it depends on who the point of reference is: the writer/speaker or the reader/hearer.

The use of goes in the above example is extremely odd. Here, the headline writer ought to have taken the reader as point of reference because the latter interprets the situation as one in which the vaccine comes to a clinic near her/him from the country of manufacture — hence comes is preferable in this instance to goes.


lovelyloey said...

It's somewhat like the Singaporean usage of "bring" and "take", e.g. Can I bring the paper home?
It seems that non-Singaporean English speakers will use "take" instead of "bring" in that example.


The Grammar Terrorist said...

Good to hear from you! I think you must've graduated now; I hope you've found a job that you enjoy, or have commenced postgraduate studies.

The problem with the headline, I think, was that it stuck too rigidly to the rules and forgot the reader.

But yes, Singaporeans often say things like "The father brought his daughter to the zoo on her birthday", when "took" would be better. However, this is a feature of Irish English too!

lovelyloey said...

Yes, I have indeed started my MA in research at NUS in Language Studies. Not sure what I'm going to research on, though.

The issue on "bring" vs "take"; is it a question of deixis?
Do we "bring my pet (from home) to the vet" or "take my pet to the vet?"
Or is more a question of the object that is brought/taken?

The Grammar Terrorist said...

That's great -- congrats! I'm sure things will fall into place; it's always normal, in the beginning, to feel lost when it comes to defining one's research topic.

My knowledge of terms is pretty rusty now; somehow I think the term "deixis" doesn't apply here, but I may be wrong.

Yes, I'd say "I will take my pet to the vet". The point of view here is the speaker, and it's the speaking who is moving with the object from her/his current location to another.