It’s generally accepted among grammarians and linguists that the present subjunctive is still somewhat vigorously alive in the States, and especially in in “that” clauses within statements of wish, command or obligation. Today in the news, though, I heard a celebrity resident of New Orleans use the phrase “whether it be…”, and I’m wondering if that’s an Americanism, or instead just a stock phrase current in the entire English speaking world.
Comments or thoughts?
It’s certainly in use here, but only in certain contexts; usually prepared oratorial. In everyday conversation, it’s not so likely to crop up and would generally be replaced by “regardless if it’s X or Y” or something else.
I agree with Mangetout. I hear the phrase every now and again here too, almost always in the context of a formal speech.
Or a formal written document.
We strongly reccommend that the company continue to invest …
Only if I was being either very formal or intentionally humorous. Personally I think it’s a shame that English isn’t blessed with more subjunctives and a greater distinction between the persons, but context usually makes our somewhat crude grammar quite clear.
I’m an American and I would say "whether it be … " But I don’t really talk to all that many people. And fewer still listen …
I remember as a young choirboy observing the phrase The Sermon (if there be one) in the prayerbook and smiling over what I thought was an archaic and rustic phrase. But then, how should I have known about the third person present subjunctive at that age?
I don’t make any distinction. I use it sometimes, whether it be in speech or in writing.
You coulda axed somebody.
How is it that it would be used sometimes, and yet no distinction would be made? Surely the intermittent use would suggest distinction, whether it be intended or no.
Could’ve asked my gramma, I guess.
I wouldn’t be taken aback at all if somebody used it in speech. I probably wouldn’t notice it. Myself, I use “be it…”