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This is a line that I took from a cartoon Spongebob Squarepants from the episode "Ghoul fools" where you can see the transcripted dialogue here.

Dutchman! Boy, am I glad we finally found you!

Is this a spech error or there is a grammatical explanation behind it? Why didn't the dubber say I am glad...

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  • It's a "rhetorical question" (not expecting an explicit answer, but contextually the only sensible answer would have to be an emphatic Yes! for this usage). Same as, for example, Well, I never! Isn't that strange? Mar 6, 2022 at 15:49
  • ... Note that semantically it doesn't normally make any difference if the question is negated, and in practice it usually/often is: Boy! Aren't I glad we found you! Mar 6, 2022 at 15:54

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Mainly in speech, we can invert an expression such as 'I am', 'he is', 'we are', etc, to emphasise the statement and make it stronger. The form of words will resemble a question, but will not be ended with a question mark, but is usually ended by an exclamation mark. Often an exclamation such as 'Oh boy!', 'Jesus!', 'God!', 'My word!', etc will precede it.

Was my father glad to see you? - question.

God! Was my father glad to see you! - emphatic statement, my father was very glad to see you.

Am I tired? - question, possibly rhetorical (only I know the answer).

Christ! Am I tired! - emphatic statement, I am very tired.

Am I glad we finally found you? - question (am I glad, or am I not glad?)

Boy, am I glad we finally found you! - emphatic statement, I am very glad we finally found you.

Does she look nice in that dress? - question.

Does she look nice in that dress! - emphatic statement, she looks very nice in that dress.

Subject - verb inversion in English

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  • You final example does still occur occasionally, but it's a bit formal / dated. It's still a rhetorical question when negated though, and that's how it's normally used: Doesn't she look nice? Mar 6, 2022 at 15:51
  • @FumbleFingers - maybe with a 'Boy!' before, it would seem more natural? Mar 6, 2022 at 15:53
  • Isn't he a smart-ass! doesn't seem any less natural to me for lack of a preceding exclamation. But if I had to include one I think it would be Wow! rather than Boy! (which latter is a bit reminiscent of things like Jeepers, creepers! to me! :) Mar 6, 2022 at 15:57
  • @FumbleFingers - my wife's sister-in-law, who comes from Cincinnati, says 'Boy!' and 'Boy oh boy!' quite a lot. Mind you, she also says 'That's bully!' which I thought went out with Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, but maybe she's special (we do get on pretty well). Mar 6, 2022 at 17:22
  • Exclamatory Boy! was always more American than British, but I don't think I've actually heard it used in earnest for many years now. So far as I can see though, many of today's British teenagers still use [Oh,] Man! all the time. Half a century ago when I was a teenager, I imagine Man! was well-established in the US, but to me and my peers it was new, exotic, and "ultra-hip". Mar 6, 2022 at 19:01

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