No one has been able to answer this question and frankly, I don’t think anyone has asked it.
What’s the deal with UK English users and the verb “to do”?
I have asked university professors, and my favorite English teacher about how I’ve heard the verb used in odd ways, have noticed it on TV, BBC shows and Harry Potter. Even conveying it to people… just saying the words and trying to explain what I mean doesn’t usually work because no one can hear the difference.
A while ago, in an interview between Robert Pattinson and Tyra Banks, I caught it:
Tyra: I hear that one of you guys is a fan of my Tyra Show
Robert: I am, yeah
Tyra: So you watch my show?
Robert: I have done, yeah
My brain forces me to hear “I have” or “I have done that” even when I know he says it wrong. When I’ve asked people about it, professors and heads of departments, they can’t hear the distinction, or the fact that he says “I have done” not the logical “I have” or “I’ve done that.” It’s like their brains also fill in the appropriate phrase, and have them move on…
Exploring other ways of saying the word “done” kind of throws me for a loop because some things make sense. “I am done” makes sense, just like “well done” does and even “well done you.” Or “I’ll make do.”
“In British English it is common to use do as a substitute verb after an auxiliary verb. Americans do not normally use do after an auxiliary verb.” (Teaching English UK)
Clicking around got me that resource, one of very few that scrappily and crappily explain the concept of an auxiliary verb. “May I have a look at your papers?” “You may do” ‘Have you finished your homework?’ ‘I have done.”
Does anyone else read this and think–geez, who taught these people English?
And then, well.. I remember that they kind of made the language…
But it does pang my chest every time I hear a smart, classy, obviously educated English person do silly things like add on extra dos and dones.
A few weeks ago when watching Sherlock, he asks Janine if she’ll call him later. She, off to work for apparently the most villainous of villains journalist Mr. Magnussen, replies with a quirky: “I might do, I might call ya.”
Though my chin was on the floor and my heart was beating with betrayal (WHY Sherlock? How could you give your carnal essence to the skaggy bridesmaid and NOT the pathologist in love with you?!) I just couldn’t get past the fact that the assistant to the most powerful journalist in the world said “I might do” to Sherlock Holmes. So trashy.
It’s almost as bad as when I first moved to the UP. I started hearing things that didn’t even slightly make sense, even today, but were used by teachers, grown-ups, and pretty important people. The verb “to bring” for instance was not one I’d ever used before. Being from Detroit, and having lived around the world, it just never crossed my mind that “bring” even existed. Had I ever used it before? How can I make that word click in my head? In turn, it seemed no one there understood the verb “to take.”
Indulgent example: My English teacher, the greatest in all the land, asked me to bring some papers down to the office. My ears stuttered because it took a minute to register… Did he mean to ask me to take the papers to the office? A friend of mine said that her mom brang her to the store. BRANG. I knew it was wrong, but was I going to correct her to brought when it should’ve been took to begin with? H-no!
I tried to explain it to the teacher, that I thought it was: Bring here, take there. Bring me that mug, take this cup to the kitchen. He didn’t get the difference, and insisted that in both instances it was bring.
My theory, though flimsy, is that Yoopers don’t use take because the word took is the same word for a hat, or a chook (or the Canadian toque).
Something else they don’t understand is “to the.” Instead of “I’m going to the gas station to get gas” I regularly hear(d) “I’m going put gas.” Instead of “I’m going to the store” it was “I’m going store.” Grown adults were going store or going Walmart.
I doubt there are many other people in the world that are physically disgusted when words aren’t spoken correctly, and unknowingly so. Someone out in the world taught them to talk that way. Bah! I should go to bed.