Sentence structure - Then up pops Netflix with

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Please have a look at the quote below borrowed from the Guardian:

P.A. must have thought the pandemic had pushed his association with the convicted sex offender, the late multimillionaire J.E., out of the news cycle. Even though the [law enforcement agencies] were still pressing him to talk to them. Even though the famously non-sweaty [...] had made such an armpit-gushing mess of that Newsnight interview. Now the public was otherwise engaged.

Then up pops Netflix with the documentary series [J.F.:F.R.].

Why doesn’t it follow the conventional sentence structure like ”subject + verb + [object]”? In those structures as quoted above must prepositions forming part of phrasal verbs be always (or otherwise as a rule) positioned before the core verb like ”pop” in the example? The questions revolve around the sentence in bold.

Obliviously Ignorant

Posted 2020-05-18T10:32:06.010

Reputation: 313

1

The preposition / verb reversal *up pops* has very strong associations with children's stories, nursery rhymes, etc. As in Little Miss Muffet: *along came a spider...*, and *down came* the rain that washed poor Eensie Weensie Spider out.

– FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2020-05-18T11:33:33.767

I'm a native speaker in the western U.S. and what the Guardian did is awful. IMO, it reads poorly, is abrupt, and doesn't quite do what they think it did. The author was trying to be clever when he/she should have been focusing on being professional. Regrettably, George Bernard Shaw's observation in Pygmalion is too often true, "The English [and all other native English speakers] have no respect for their language, and will not teach their children to speak it." – JBH – 2020-05-18T19:52:40.443

8@JBH As a native speaker from Britain it reads fine to me. – None – 2020-05-18T22:41:21.950

@user31598 does it really? This sounds like the gutter English I'd expect to hear among a group of blue collar workers chatting during a lunch break. But... not being British... I can be (and probably am) completely wrong. – JBH – 2020-05-18T22:44:37.783

2@JBH Please don't draw parallels between people's race and inferior men. – None – 2020-05-18T22:58:04.683

@user31598 :-) Touché! – JBH – 2020-05-19T02:46:56.913

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Possibly relevant: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V2_word_order#Vestiges_in_Modern_English

– Carsten S – 2020-05-19T10:06:34.480

5@user31598: As another western US native speaker, it reads perfectly OK to me. Such changing of word order is normal in English. See for instance the fairly common parallel construction "up jumps the devil", which is the title of several books & songs, though I can't easily find the original source. – jamesqf – 2020-05-19T16:29:13.733

2As a native English speaker (US), it sounds quite natural to me. *However* it might not be perfect "textbook" English. That said, it is a widely accepted style of speech/writing for emphatic purposes, and whether or not it is proper English de jure, it's definitely good English de facto. – Panzercrisis – 2020-05-20T02:23:12.063

@user31598 try an exact phrase search for "up pops" restricted to your favorite US newspaper. You'll see that it's by no means unusual in the US. As to class, I have no difficulty imagining it said through the clenched teeth of a stereotypical Oxbridge accent. – phoog – 2020-05-20T04:49:41.180

Answers

25

"Up pops" is an idiomatic ways of describing the sudden appearance of something. "Up pops Netflix" is basically the same as saying "Netflix pops up".

You've possibly seen this structure more than you think:

  • I asked the question, and up went the hands
  • Down goes the hammer, the item is sold.

"Up" and "down" are both adverbs and it isn't unusual to begin a sentence with an adverb, for example:

  • He ran quickly / Quickly he ran
  • He opened the door cautiously / Cautiously, he opened the door.

Astralbee

Posted 2020-05-18T10:32:06.010

Reputation: 41 381

Shouldn't the "Down goes the hammer" sentence use a semicolon instead of a colon? – MCMastery – 2020-05-19T19:26:01.187

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@MCMastery Technically, yes. But it's a common mistake, known as a "comma splice", and sometimes even done for stylistic reasons to convey a "hurried" or "rushed" tone.

– Cody Gray – 2020-05-20T10:02:22.343

And the reason for this is emphasis. Take the sentence, "Studios were doing fine, and then up pops Netflix!" Say this with emphasis on the last 3 words. This simply sounds better than saying "Studios were doing fine, and then Netflix pops up." It doesn't have the same ring to it, I think because in the first example, "Netflix" is at the end of the sentence. The two are basically the same, yes, but not exactly the same. – user91988 – 2020-05-20T20:17:44.063

@CodyGray Indeed - but as you say, commonly accepted. I lifted the examples from a book search – Astralbee – 2020-05-21T10:18:15.137

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The inverted form is just a conventional way of drawing attention to a sudden arrival or movement.

Here comes the teacher!

Up jumped Dingo - Yellow Dog Dingo (Kipling)

Down fell the pony in a fit (music hall song)

Kate Bunting

Posted 2020-05-18T10:32:06.010

Reputation: 7 859