Wednesday, February 10, 2016
“Twere is a contraction of a form of the verb to be. In full, it is written as it were, a subjunctive form. I bring it up because it is used in a scene in the Coen Brothers’ movie, Hail, Caesar.
In that scene, a movie director becomes increasingly frustrated by an actor’s inability to say a simple line: “would that it ‘twere so simple.” The actor has a history of playing westerns, but he has been thrust unwillingly into a British drawing-room drama, where he obviously is out of place.
The problem is that ‘twere already contains the pronoun it as a contraction. So the line literally reads, “would that it it were so simple.” A double it? That’s redundancy.
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