The ultimate go-ahead-and

Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Tue Aug 22 18:07:48 UTC 2000

Well, maybe not the ultimate, but a first for me.

I don't remember when I became conscious of this, but it's been around
awhile.  It's what might be called the empty "go-ahead-and."  As in, "I'll
go ahead and tell Mr. Smith you're here."  In my experience it's confined
to female speakers who are secretaries, receptionists and the like.  With
some speakers, it seems as if EVERY verb becomes "go-ahead-and V."  The
meaning seems to be something like, "Get ready--pay attention--verb
coming."  Nonetheless it seems to me that at least a vestige of literal
meaning is usually preserved, in that the verb that follows denotes an
action that one MIGHT, theoretically, have been waiting for a go-ahead to
carry out.

Not anymore.

One of the secretaries here just said, "Do you want me to go-ahead-and not
even bother stuffing those envelopes?"  Somehow that seems to complete a
transition that I had not seen completed before.

Peter Mc.

                               Peter A. McGraw
                   Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
                            pmcgraw at

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