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While wasting time on the internet (as I am wont to do), I came across a video in which somebody was criticizing a blog-post and corrected the statement

  • *Keith does not a hint take.

supplying his corrected version

  • **A hint does Keith not take.

with the added explanation that the first sentence implies that there is a hint not taking Keith, unlike his phrasing. In either case, the intended connotation is supposed to be that of the statement

  • Keith does not take a hint.

Do either of the above statements carry this meaning?

To my ears, the first statement seems perfectly comprehensible and does not appear to flip subject and object, while the second seems convoluted. Maybe something like "A hint Keith does not take" is something more along the lines the critic was going for? At any rate, I would appreciate an explanation as to which of the above statements are grammatical and/or carry their intended meaning.

Edit: Just ran into my old post and was curious. The video I was talking about is here.

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    English is pretty flexible about inverted word order, and any of those phrasings are comprehensible. However, I far prefer the original phrasing to that person's "correction." Aug 26, 2013 at 18:42
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    I suspect that the original writer was creating a variation of the "xxxx does not a yyyy make" pattern. Here is a discussion of this pattern: english.stackexchange.com/questions/27420/…
    – Shoe
    Aug 26, 2013 at 18:52
  • @Shoe I have a feeling you're right. Thank you for the link! Aug 26, 2013 at 19:12
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    “A hint does Kieth not take” sounds absolutely bizarre to me. It is grammatically correct, of course, but if I heard it used in a conversation, I would probably have to have it repeated before I’d grasp what was being said. Incidentally, the person who did the ‘correcting’ here is absolutely and utterly wrong that a hint is not taking Kieth in the first statement. That is, in fact, not even a possible interpretation: it would have to be “Kieth does a hint not take” for that to become possible. Aug 26, 2013 at 20:32
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    I would have said that both versions were wrong and that it should be "Kieth doth not a hint take."
    – TrevorD
    Aug 26, 2013 at 22:57

1 Answer 1

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"*Kieth does not a hint take" is Shakespearean (or Elizabethan) syntax. Spoken today, that would sound formal and aloof. But it might work well in a poem, where a rhyme for "take" might be easier to work in than for "hint".

It reminds me of German, where the verb typically goes at the end of the sentence.

The "corrected version" is indeed worse.

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  • The verb only goes at the end of a German sentence in subordinate clauses. In non-subordinate clauses, the (main, inflected) verb favours the Wackernagel position in German just as in English. Modifiers and complements to infinitives precede the infinitive, though, which often ends up giving the impression that a verb in the infinitive goes last in the sentence. Aug 26, 2013 at 21:52
  • Yoda also the verb at the end of the sentence often puts.
    – mikeY
    Aug 26, 2013 at 22:07
  • @mikeY reminiscent of Yoda speak indeed this is. In Shoe's linked question, Robusto notes that this type of rearrangement is referred to as hyperbaton Aug 26, 2013 at 22:57
  • @ZZMike thank you for your input. I'm glad that you (and the commenters) agree that the "corrected version" is worse. Aug 26, 2013 at 22:59

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