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Grammatical mood differs from the mood expressing emotions

By Alexander Chagema | Published Mon, November 5th 2018 at 09:51, Updated November 5th 2018 at 09:53 GMT +3

How enjoyable is it going back to work on a Monday? Chances are that you are not very enthusiastic about Mondays, but there is nothing you can do about it except, perhaps, be moody. So commonplace is the feeling that the mood has been captured in the idiom; ‘Monday morning blues’. This was coined to express the lethargy that informs Mondays.

The ‘blue’ mood, however, does not restrict itself to Mondays, hence the other expression ‘Morning blues’. The latter mood can occur on any day for varied reasons unlike the ‘Monday only’ morning blues which, basically, are about reluctance to exert oneself after a relaxed weekend during which not much is expected from an individual. Because of routine, workdays tend to be drab. Nobody looks forward to being bored, but it is that monotony that drives life and makes us realise our basic needs.

Ideally, blue is associated with colour, but when the word ‘blue’ is used in combination with certain words, it carries different meanings. Let us consider things that happened last week to illustrate. To some people in Kenya, there is no love lost between opposition leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto.

Indeed, there are no pretenses about it even by the gentlemen themselves. So, when the public learnt that Raila had lunch at Ruto’s Karen home on Friday last week, there were mixed reactions. It is something that happened out of the blue (unexpectedly). The mood on social media was interesting as both sides of the political divide engaged in discourse.

Rehabilitation center

But, even as the belligerent parties shouted themselves blue in the face (meaning their online fights were wasted effort), politicians will continue to wrong foot us all the way. We can scream blue murder (demonstrate annoyance) or have the blues (feel sad about developments), but there is really nothing much we can do about it. The moral is; do not take politicians too seriously, it is not good for your health.

Two other notable things played on the moods of Kenyans last week, generating a lot of debate on social media. First, the president said his choice for the 2022 presidential candidate will ‘shock Kenyans’. Second, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko acted decisively to get former boxer Conjestina Achievement into a rehabilitation centre with the promise of employment once her mental condition improves. As happens with any debate, there are those who state facts, those who say what should have been and so forth. As alluded to above, it all boils down to mood (s).

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What is your understanding of the word mood? The first thing that comes to mind probably is; the state of the mind as influenced by activities around the individual. For instance, last week’s happenings put a lot of people in good moods (happy, pleased).

Mood also expresses anger; Butere town residents were in a foul mood Friday last week, protesting harassment from a criminal gang terrorizing them. Mood also expresses disposition. For example, I am not in the mood for more arguments (not interested).

Indicative mood

On the other hand, grammatical mood does not express emotions or disposition. It shows how verbs are used to convey different meanings. The common grammatical moods are; indicative, subjunctive, optative, interrogative and imperative.

When news outlets reported that Raila had lunch at Ruto’s Karen residence, and that Sonko had taken Conjestina to Nairobi for treatment, the verbs ‘had’ and ‘taken’ are used in the context of the indicative mood.  The indicative mood makes reference to what is factual.

The interrogative mood refers to the questioning aspect. In the Sonko case, many were not convinced, believing the governor was merely seeking public attention.

Some asked; why did Sonko concern himself with Conjestina yet she has her own leaders who should have come to her rescue much earlier? The verb ‘concern’ preceded by ‘why’ indicates the interrogative mood.

The foregoing example also shows the optative mood. This mood expresses wish. As such, even as some wondered why Sonko had to move all the way to Migori from Nairobi, it expresses a wish that local leaders should have acted earlier to help Conjestina who, no doubt, is a household name in Kenya.

When a verb is used in such a way as to give a condition, it is used in the subjunctive mood. For example, if Conjestina recovers and desires to continue on her career path, the government ought to give her a comprehensive medical insurance cover. The subjunctive and imperative moods are related.

Mr Chagema is a correspondent at The [email protected]


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