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<   No. 1268   2006-07-17   >

Comic #1268

1 Jane Goodall: {answering phone} Hello?
2 Terry: {on the other end of the line} Hi, Jane.
2 Jane Goodall: Terry! Hi.
3 Jane Goodall: Has Steve somehow managed to put together some sort of usable documentary for me?
4 Terry: He's in hospital!
4 Jane Goodall: Wow. My idea is working better than I'd hoped.

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This is really kind of six separate panels, but the split-panel gimmick thing works to compress it into four and give the impression of a phone conversation.

Wow, what a lame annotation.


2015-12-28 Rerun commentary: If I were redoing this strip now, I'd make the split line in the split panels jagged, instead of a straight diagonal.

On a complete tangent, in my current studying to learn Italian, I've learnt way more grammar than I ever knew before - and way more English grammar in particular. For example, that sentence beginning "If I were redoing this strip now" uses the subjunctive mood. This is a form of expression used for expressing things which are not factual. In this case, "If I were redoing this strip" is a hypothetical, but a statement of something I'm actually doing.

The subjunctive in English is marked by a change in the verb tense. If I actually was redoing this strip, I would say "I was redoing this strip", which is a factual mood. But in the subjunctive, the verb "was" becomes "were": "If I were redoing this strip".

This is not a hard and fast rule in English. Many people would say "If I was redoing this strip", and not think anything was wrong with that. This is because most verbs don't actually have a distinct subjunctive form in English, so the change of verb form is rarely visible as it is with the verb "to be" (of which "was" and "were" are past tense versions).

Anyway, the gist of all this is that the subjunctive in English is largely unnoticed by English speakers unless they've taken formal grammar lessons. But in Italian (and many other languages), the subjunctive is a distinct verb form for every single verb, and needs to be used correctly. So, from not knowing anything about subjunctive mood in English, I've had to learn all about it in another language first, so that I could progress in learning Italian, and then only later have I applied that knowledge back to English.

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