February 11: a variant auxiliary verb

The omnipresence of covid 19 finds us all modifying our habitual fields of reference for metaphorical language. Teaching French to GCSE students I find myself referring to the so-called etre verbs as a spikey variant strain of the past tense. We have always adapted our discoiurse to suit the times. ‘A plague on both your houses’ in Romeo and Juliet echoed the more virulent issue of the late sixteenth century. Until recently the most common use of the word virus was as a metaphor for computer problems. Now it seems disrespectful to the many victims of Covid 19 to have this term still maintaining its currency in computer world. At least with plague you had the properly horrendous plague of locusts as its extrapolated image.


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