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  1. beachboy's Avatar
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    #1

    for to

    Thereīs a song by Queen, called The Prophetīs song in which they sing Running for to come, running for to come out of the rain.... Is the combination of these two prepositions ever possible? If itīs a gross mistake, never made in conversations and only in songs, how do natives react when they hear a mistake like this?


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    #2

    Re: for to

    This combination occurs in American songs associated with music ostensibly of black American origin, and songs written mimicking this, as sung by Minstrels.

    Swing low, sweet char-i-o -ot,
    Coming for to carry me home.


    Stephen Foster:

    Susanna
    I come from Alabama with my Banjo on my knee
    I'se gwine to Lou'siana my true lub for to see.
    It rain'd all night de day I left, de wedder it was dry;
    The sun so hot I froze to def -- Susanna, don't you cry.


    : "Polly Wolly Doodle"

    : Oh, I went down South for to see my Sal
    : Sing Polly wolly doodle all the day
    : My Sal, she is a spunky gal
    : Sing Polly wolly doodle all the day

    : Fare thee well, fare thee well,
    : Fare thee well my fairy fay
    : For I'm going to Lou'siana for to see my Susianna
    : Sing Polly wolly doodle all the day.


    In Ireland, you will hear people say, "We're going for to have a drink" or "You need to be at the airport at 7:00 for to catch the plane".
    Considering the numbers of the Irish who went to America, and that the slaves at the time would have English as a second language (!), it would have crept into American English.

    Anyone further info. or understand differently?
    Last edited by David L.; 23-Nov-2008 at 17:37.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: for to

    But 'American influence' isn't the whole story David. Those Queen lyrics may well fall into your "songs written mimicking this" category, but they also may be imitating a form of words often used in English traditional songs.

    For example, from Rosemary Lane:

    'This mail being young and foolish she thought it no harm
    To lie him to bed for to keep herself warm...'

    I wanted to post a link, but the only ones I can find are (like so many lyrics posted on the internet) riddled with inaccuracies.

    b


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    #4

    Re: for to

    It wasn't that I was in any thinking that a Queen song was mimicking them - only that the Minstrel songs mimicked the speech of the slaves; and is still common in Ireland. So - "Is the combination of these two prepositions ever possible?"
    YES.

    I did wonder, though, whether Brian May was Irish, but he was born in London.

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    #5

    Re: for to

    "For-to" infinitives are well established in Chaucer, e.g.

    1.
    At which the hooly blisful faire mayde
    Gan for to laughe, and to the juge sayde...

    2.
    Thou seyst thy princes han thee yeven myght
    Bothe for to sleen and for to quyken a wight...

    and occur in the King James version:

    3. And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised; for to build the house of the LORD...

    By the end of the 18th century, though, they seem to have disappeared from standard English. I would say that (in BrE) they survive chiefly in dialect and folk balladry; or as a metrical expedient; or as deliberate archaism.

    (I would guess that the Queen lyric represents a combination of expediency and archaism.)

    MrP
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  3. BobK's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: for to

    I had a feeling I'd met it in Chaucer, but no quotes came to mind. Thanks for confirming this suspicion.

    When I went to Kindergarten in the '50s we used to sing about the animals going into Noah's Ark two by two -

    "And they all went into the ark
    For to get out of the rain"

    By the time my son went to playschool 30 years later the Standardizing Language Police had got at it, with a lamentable lack of concern for scansion:

    "And they all went into the ark
    To shelter from the rain."

    (Is there an icon for :sigh:?)

    b

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    #7

    Re: for to

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    "And they all went into the ark
    To shelter from the rain."


    Neither version seems based on a close reading of the Book of Genesis...

    MrP
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    Not a professional ESL teacher.
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  4. BobK's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: for to

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic View Post


    Neither version seems based on a close reading of the Book of Genesis...

    MrP
    I think the "for to" version has more respect for Genesis, in that the prepositions suggest purpose, and the rain was predicted, so the words could be interpreted to mean 'so as to get somewhere where they would be sheltered when the rain came'. But I agree that the newer version suggests that the animals actually got wet - not that I'm seriously exercised about this issue! (I'm more interested in artistic/musical aptness, and in a 6/8 song "for to get | out of the" is better.)

    b

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