Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 22:53:50 +0000
Subject: Variation in "try"-complements?

This is one of those topics that may have already been discussed; if
so, please accept apologies --

In my grammar class yesterday, I was engaged in presenting the unit
on verbs that take gerundial or infinitival objects. I checked to see
if anyone used the "enjoy to X" pattern; as I expected for my
Michigan class, no one did. However, when I got to the class of verb
constructions that change meaning depending on whether the object is
an infinitive or gerund ("forgot to lock the door" vs. "forgot
locking the door"), I got a surprise. None of my students could
detect any difference between "tried opening the door" and "tried to open
the door", even when I supplied extensive contexts, different
verbals, etc.

Assuming that they really do use the gerund and infinitive objects
interchangably with "try" -- i.e. that it's not an artifact of my
presentation of the subject -- I was wondering what the dialectal
status of this "reassignment" is. Is it common over a wide area, or
have I stumbled into a Central Michigan shibboleth? I'm considering
it as being in varience with "standard" since textbooks
(particularly ESL textbooks) class "try" with "forget";
as a southerner, I'm a bit leery of trusting my instincts on things
like this (I was 23 before I found out that "fixing to" was nonStandard).

Thanks --- Bill Spruiell
Opinions expressed in this message do not necessarily represent those of Central Michigan U.

Bill Spruiell
Central Michigan University
Dept. of English Language and Literature