Wuthering Heights - I shall be dirty ... I will be dirty

cheshire

Senior Member
Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
You needn't have touched me! I shall be as dirty as I please! I like to be dirty and I will be dirty!​
This is from Wuthering Heights rewritten for children.

"shall" and "will" used in the same sentence!

Do you think they have different meanings for the speaker?
 
  • FRENFR

    Senior Member
    English
    I "shall" explains that she wants to, no matter what the consequence, and I "will" confirms it with more force.

    "Shall", in the future, is not very common, but is very precise. We don't use it interchangeably with "will". It can be used to "pretend to sound very polite". My friend regularly talks like this, and would say someting like...

    "Yes indeed, I shall talk to him later for you", instead of "Yes indeed, I will talk to him later for you". Will, is more regular and general and always used. Shall, is more "held back", and used to be particularly polite.

    In an interview, if you are asked to come back, or do something, to say "I shall do that" seems more polite than "I will do that".

    I know native English speakers will agree since I'm an educated English native.

    But, in your sentence, the "shall" is almost sarcastic, like an attempt of being polite by saying "I don't care what you think, I WILL be dirty, and you can't stop me". But, using "shall", is the first, held back way before making it firmer with "will".

    Hope all that makes sense.
     

    Phil-Olly

    Senior Member
    Scotland, English
    I was taught at school that "shall" is normal first person singular and plural: 'I shall' & 'we shall', but: "you, he, she & they will" and that reversing this rule is used only to imply determination. However, as Frenfre say, 'shall' is less commonly used these days. We commonly hear that the "plane shall be landing at Stansted ...etc" as a kind of posh-speak.
    There is an old grammar-book example of someone in the sea who shouted to passers by "No-one will save me, and I shall drown!". They must have all been pedants because they took him at his word and let him drown!

    Phil
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi cheshire

    To understand what's going on here, you need to understand several different points...

    First, shall and will derive from two different Germanic verbs: shall from a verb with a meaning akin to "must", "should", "be bound to"; and will from a verb meaning "want to" "be determined to".

    Second, the standard "future tense" in English developed as "I shall; you will; he/she/it will; we shall; you will; they will"

    This left available the "opposite" options: "I/we will" meaning "I/we want to"/"I/we intend to" and "you/he/she/it/they shall" to indicate "fate has decreed that you/he/she/it/they will...". So, "I will do it whether you want me to or not" (= I am determined to do it); and the Fairy Godmother's "Cinderella, you shall go to the ball!"

    More recently, the usual future tense in English has become "will" for all persons of the verb (though purists still argue for "I shall; you will; he/she/it will; we shall; you will; they will").

    So, cheshire, looking at your quote:
    You needn't have touched me! I shall be as dirty as I please! I like to be dirty and I will be dirty!

    means: I will (future) be as dirty as I please! I like to be dirty and I fully intend (determination) to be dirty!

    Sorry this is so complicated!

    Loob
     

    cheshire

    Senior Member
    Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
    Now I completely understand how they (BrEn speakers of 18th century) used "shall" and "will."

    I should like to thank you for being so kind, and I will never forget your kindness!

    Phil's example is interesting, but isn't it reverse? This sentence is not about "suicide".
    "No-one will save me, and I shall drown!"​
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This is a common topic.
    The distinction between shall and will (referred to above) comes naturally to those living in the South East of England. The further you get from London, the less often the distinction is made and the more you will hear will used indiscriminately.

    The specific issue of the drowning person is referred to in post #12 of:
    Old English to Modern English
     

    liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    Hi cheshire

    To understand what's going on here, you need to understand several different points...

    First, shall and will derive from two different Germanic verbs: shall from a verb with a meaning akin to "must", "should", "be bound to"; and will from a verb meaning "want to" "be determined to".

    Second, the standard "future tense" in English developed as "I shall; you will; he/she/it will; we shall; you will; they will"

    This left available the "opposite" options: "I/we will" meaning "I/we want to"/"I/we intend to" and "you/he/she/it/they shall" to indicate "fate has decreed that you/he/she/it/they will...". So, "I will do it whether you want me to or not" (= I am determined to do it); and the Fairy Godmother's "Cinderella, you shall go to the ball!"

    More recently, the usual future tense in English has become "will" for all persons of the verb (though purists still argue for "I shall; you will; he/she/it will; we shall; you will; they will").

    So, cheshire, looking at your quote:
    You needn't have touched me! I shall be as dirty as I please! I like to be dirty and I will be dirty!

    means: I will (future) be as dirty as I please! I like to be dirty and I fully intend (determination) to be dirty!

    Sorry this is so complicated!

    Loob
    Loob, I think your long, complicated explanation is excellent, and beautifully summarized in your example sentence.:):thumbsup:
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Now I completely understand how they (BrEn speakers of 18the century) used "shall" and "will."

    I should like to thank you for being so kind, and I will never forget your kindness!

    Phil's example is interesting, but isn't it reverse? This sentence is not about "suicide".

    "No-one will save me, and I shall drown!"​
    Yes, you're right, Cheshire, the ironic "suicide" version is usually given as ""I will drown, and no one shall save me!" (= I want to drown, and no-one must save me).

    I should perhaps have said one more thing: that when making an offer, it's still usual in English English (can't say BrE here because I think it may be different in Scotland for example) to use "shall" for the first person. So: "shall I open the door for you?". This harks back to the Germanic meaning of shall.

    Thank you - and thanks to liliput too - for your kind comments! I'm astonished I can make any sense at all at two o'clock in the morning:D

    Loob
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm full of admiration for the standard and interest of this thread. I've a point to raise:

    1. Emily Bronte was writing in the educated Yorkshire English in which she was brought up. Some of the direct speech (Nelly Dean is one of the narrators) is in dialect.
    2. I imagine the first Cathy (Heathcliff was rather a sullen infant) is speaking here, and the language - although Cheshire warns us that this version has been rewritten for children - is very close to the original as I remember it. This is a highly intelligent and extremely wilful little girl.
    3. Panj. has suggested that use of will and shall is different in the North and the South of England.

    Do you think the fact that this is a Northern book, written in Yorkshire English, makes a difference to the choice between shall and will?

    Do you think that the child is deliberately using both forms to exercise her linguistic muscles?

    In case anyone is wondering if Yorkshire English is different in important ways from other English regional forms, I'll bore you will a brief story:

    When the New English Bible was published in 1970, the publishers sent representatives round the country to try to persuade people to use it. One of these addressed the children at a Yorkshire primary school, run by a friend of mine.

    'This new Bible uses words and phrases which are familiar to all of us,' he said. 'Not like that old Bible, which was so hard to understand, and which used words like 'thee' and 'thou'....... Now who today uses words like 'thee' and 'thou'?'

    The man paused, to allow his rhetorical question to sink into his young audience, and, in the silence, a little voice was heard to say, quite clearly:

    'Uz duz.'

    Translation: (Uz duz - us does (conventional spelling) - we do (conventional English))
     

    mjscott

    Senior Member
    American English
    I was taught at school that "shall" is normal first person singular and plural: 'I shall' & 'we shall', but: "you, he, she & they will" and that reversing this rule is used only to imply determination. However, as Frenfre say, 'shall' is less commonly used these days. We commonly hear that the "plane shall be landing at Stansted ...etc" as a kind of posh-speak.
    There is an old grammar-book example of someone in the sea who shouted to passers by "No-one will save me, and I shall drown!". They must have all been pedants because they took him at his word and let him drown!

    Phil
    This is what I learned: In first person, shall is the definitive future. Will is the will to do something, but not always the outcome. For second and third persons cases, it is the opposite. Therefore, He was saying, "No one will save me," (He's referring to the passengers, and will for second and third persons; singular and plural, is the definitive future), "and I shall drown!" (He is definitive about drowning!) Therefore, it's a tongue-in-cheek pneumonic to help you remember which one is the definitive case in first-third persons in grammer.

    cheshire-
    If you learn this, you will be the only English speaker who has it mastered! I have to re-think what I was taught each time this comes up on the Forum. Phil's quote shall help me remember it from here on!
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I shall be as dirty as I please! I like to be dirty and I will be dirty!
    In the Oxford English Dictionary's analysis, the speaker is here using the verb shall in sense 8b(b), which I quote in the next paragraph. The first and second sentences are not particularly easy to understand, but the the third sentence is particularly apt to our quotation.

    [Shall is used] Of voluntary action or its intended result. Here I (we) shall is always admissible exc. where the notion of a present (as distinguished from a previous) decision or consent is to be expressed (in which case will must be used). Further, I shall often expresses a determination insisted on in spite of opposition, and I shall not (colloq. I shan't) a peremptory refusal.

    Speaking more generally than the OED, the core function of shall in texts, such as this one, unaffected by
    1) the replacement of shall by will over the last two centuries or so, and
    2) the consequent efforts of prescriptive grammarians to give shall some sort of place in the language (quoted by Phil-Olly)
    is to express the voice of authority. This is why it is often used in commands Thou shalt not kill, and in contracts Company X shall be liable to company Y for ... and also for futures that are not probabilities but that are pre-determined by God or fate The meek shall inherit the Earth, The sun shall rise tomorrow. The authority in question can lie with the speaker or elsewhere. Here the speaker is asserting the power to determine how dirty he shall be. My grandparents, brought up in Yorkshire in the early 20th century, and little influenced by the prescriptive grammarians referred to by Phil-Olly, used shall in precisely this way.

    Will (plainly enough) here expresses the will of its subject (I).
     
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