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#1 2008-06-14 19:18:22

rogerthat
Eggcornista
From: Denver, Colorado, USA
Registered: 2008-05-19
Posts: 64

"I'm being haved" << "I'm behaving"

A long time ago, we were baby sitting a rather charming and precocious three year old girl. She was starting to act up, so I said to her, “Now, behave!” To which she immediately exclaimed, “I’m being haved!” As you can imagine, we were simply floored at the time.

At the risk of over analyzing Relative Usage (RU), I derived the following results to indicate the rarity of “haved”:

RU( “I’m being haved” << “I’m behaving” ) = 17/17,200 = 0.1%

RU( “I am being haved” << “I am behaving” ) = 9/1800 = 0.5%

RU( “being haved” << “behaving” ) = 231/544,000 = 0.04%

The above numerical data supplied by google as follows:

ghits( “I’m being haved” ) = 17 and ghits( “I’m behaving” ) = 17,200.

ghits( “I am being haved” ) = 9 and ghits( “I am behaving” ) = 1800.

ghits( “being haved” ) = 231 and ghits( “behaving” ) = 544,000.

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#2 2008-06-14 20:10:21

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: "I'm being haved" << "I'm behaving"

I read the same story as a teenager—I think it may have been in the form of a cartoon strip, with a little kid saying, “But I am being have!” Anyhow, I tried googling “I am being have” and got a number of hits—most of them from parents recounting amazing things said by their kids. A LInguist List post from 1992 with a couple of such stories is here: http://linguistlist.org/issues/3/3-663.html

The story of the kid who says “I am being have” also turns up in books. Books.google.com has 11 hits for it right now, most of them quite recent (there’s one listed as being from 1944, but it’s from a serial and therefore untrustworthy). The earliest reference I’ve been able to find in print is from an article by Clifford H. Prator in the journal TESOL Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Jun., 1969), pp. 95-104. I’m betting there are earlier references out there somewhere.

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#3 2008-06-14 22:37:12

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1773
Website

Re: "I'm being haved" << "I'm behaving"

My son independently came up with this one (when about 2 yrs old, so pushing 34 years ago now). I expect it has been reinvented many times, it’s so natural. (“You be quiet!” : “I am being quiet.” :: “You behave” : __)

Where would the -ed come from in “being haved”? The proper past tense would be “I beed have”, not “I be haved”...

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2008-06-16 00:59:24)


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#4 2008-06-15 17:14:26

nilep
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-03-21
Posts: 291

Re: "I'm being haved" << "I'm behaving"

DavidTuggy wrote:

Where would the -ed come from in “being haved”? The proper past tense would be “I beed have”, not “I be haved”...

Actually, the past tense would be “I was haved.”

One can hear behave as two words: the actual verb be plus a previously unattested but thoroughly plausible *have (not to be confused with the verb have, which is pronounced differently).

If this is compared to phrases like being good, being careful etc., we would expect being have (without -ed).

“Being haved” sounds like a passive, on comparison with “being watched” or “being punished.” This makes me suspect that the past-participle (-ed marked) forms are either care-givers recollections or jokes, rather than accurate transcriptions of kid’s reshapings.

I thought to compare “being haved” versus “being have”, but a Google search for the latter seems to return at least as many instances of the (actual) verb have as the (nonce) adjective have.

Howstuffworks “How many senses does a human being have?”
http://health.howstuffworks.com/question242.htm

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#5 2008-06-15 21:18:28

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1773
Website

Re: "I'm being haved" << "I'm behaving"

nilep wrote:

<snip>
If this is compared to phrases like being good, being careful etc., we would expect being have (without -ed).
bq. “Being haved” sounds like a passive, on comparison with “being watched” or “being punished.” This makes me suspect that the past-participle (-ed marked) forms are either care-givers recollections or jokes, rather than accurate transcriptions of kid’s reshapings.

Yes, that’s what puzzles me about it. I never heard “being haved”, and since kids are not told “now you behaved”, I don’t know where they would get the “-ed” from.

I thought to compare “being haved” versus “being have”, but a Google search for the latter seems to return at least as many instances of the (actual) verb have as the (nonce) adjective have.

I’m interested in your use of “nonce”. What does it mean in this context to you? “Restricted to this construction” rather than “only used on a particular occasion” ? It is certainly not a one-off occurrence.


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#6 2008-06-16 01:12:28

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1773
Website

Re: "I'm being haved" << "I'm behaving"

nilep wrote:
DavidTuggy wrote:
Where would the -ed come from in “being haved”? The proper past tense would be “I beed have”, not “I be haved”...
.
Actually, the past tense would be “I was haved.”

Many speakers, especially children, have developed independently a system with two verbs to be. One of them means “act” and can be used in the imperative — be have fits that pattern. The other means something more like “undergo” and cannot easily be used in the imperative. The past tense was goes with the “undergo” meaning. Thus you do not command someone to * be tired, and the past tense for I am tired is (or at least may be) I was tired, but you do command them to be quiet, and the past tense for I am being quiet is I beed quiet. You also get If he bees quiet but not * if he bees tired. [Cf. if I be quiet (will you give me a candy?) vs. * if I be tired (will you give me a candy?) .]

When I said that the proper past tense would be “I beed have”, I meant “proper” tongue-in-cheek as a reference to that non-standard active verb. You are of course right that in standard English you would say I was quiet/tired/(have).

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2008-06-16 01:28:47)


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#7 2008-06-16 14:41:21

nilep
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-03-21
Posts: 291

Re: "I'm being haved" << "I'm behaving"

DavidTuggy wrote:

I’m interested in your use of “nonce”. What does it mean in this context to you? “Restricted to this construction” rather than “only used on a particular occasion” ? It is certainly not a one-off occurrence.

I expect that *have is constructed by the child (via back formation) on the particular occasion of its usage, and not pulled from a lexicon; thus “nonce”.

Within the pages rogerthat locates above, “being haved” is not one-off (I suspect it’s a circulating joke). But I still imagine that for a child who pronounces “being have” the latter word is.

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#8 2008-06-16 15:04:08

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1773
Website

Re: "I'm being haved" << "I'm behaving"

I guess I was assuming the child would rehearse the construction and use it repeatedly, that it would in fact be standard for him/her.

But you are right, that if the situation is viewed from the child’s point of view it is more likely to be a nonce construction than it is from our point of view as investigators.

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2008-06-16 15:08:43)


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#9 2008-06-16 15:33:39

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

Re: "I'm being haved" << "I'm behaving"

Regarding a child’s remark “I am being haved”—in response to being asked to behave…

I’m always a bit wary of eggcorns arising by children’s utterances because children have a limited vocabulary and they are just following a grammatical pattern they’ve learned. So, the utterance may (or may not) be an eggcorn, but it’s lower on the scale of ingenuity because it involves a nonsense word. (Many eggcorns originating with adults involve nonsense words as well, and I’d toss those in the same category).

The best eggcorns are those which assemble the most “correct” information into a form which resemble an existing idiom while misunderstanding the true meaning of the idiom (and still conveying consistent imagery). For instance, something like “crap chute” is far more interesting because it brings a consistent image based upon two misconceptions of the term “crap shoot” without relying on any nonsense words.

Last edited by jorkel (2008-06-16 16:42:36)

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#10 2008-06-16 19:05:03

rogerthat
Eggcornista
From: Denver, Colorado, USA
Registered: 2008-05-19
Posts: 64

Re: "I'm being haved" << "I'm behaving"

Thanks Chad, I completely missed the past-participle aspect. Though, I do have at least 99% confidence in the validity of the transcription of her exclamation; “I’m being haved! [ca. 1990]” Oddly enough, my memory of exactly what I said immediately prior to her exclamation is markedly fuzzier, since I rarely say anything exceptional. Of coarse it’s hard for us to put our big feet into her little shoes, but do you think it’s also possible that she meant to say, “I was being haved,” in reference to her preceding behavior?

Also Chad, it seems like the google search engine’s handling of word delimiters in the search key field can be a bit ‘loosey goosey’ at times; but there must be a method to their lexical parsing madness. Without resorting to advanced google search options, I took the liberty of attempting to reverse engineer the problematic query keys you mentioned (in post #4 above). For my quick experiment, google supplied the following data: ghits( “I am being have ” ) = 40; ghits( “I’m being have ” ) = 19. Note the trailing space character that I included inside the quotes. To my surprise, this worked even better than expected by returning hits with differing punctuation characters (such as dot, bang and nathan) substituted for the trailing space character of the search key. You might want to give it a try.

Pat, your expert digging jogged me to recall that Art Linkletter (yes, he’s still kicking!) could have a riot with this one. Come to think of it, there might be some juicy eggcorn candidates waiting to be mined from his books and TV transcripts (ref. “Kids Say the Darndest Things”), nonces notwithstanding.

David and jorkel, I overlooked the nonce or nonsense word aspect as well. I see your point and now have a slightly better understanding of what an eggcorn isn’t. I did have an interesting ride and learned about much more than eggcorns in the process, though. Thanks again everybody.

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#11 2008-06-16 19:47:40

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1773
Website

Re: "I'm being haved" << "I'm behaving"

rogerthat wrote:

<snip> Of coarse it’s hard for us to put our big feet into her little shoes, but do you think it’s also possible that she meant to say, “I was being haved,” in reference to her preceding behavior?<snip>

Was that (“of coarse”) on purpose? Whether or not, good ‘un!


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#12 2008-06-16 21:46:30

rogerthat
Eggcornista
From: Denver, Colorado, USA
Registered: 2008-05-19
Posts: 64

Re: "I'm being haved" << "I'm behaving"

David, thanks for pointing out my coarse-ness. Whoops! Hopefully, my writing has a little more polish when I’m a wake and a lert.

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