The ultimate go-ahead-and

Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Tue Aug 22 21:03:17 UTC 2000

--On Tue, Aug 22, 2000 3:30 PM -0500 "Donald M. Lance"
<LanceDM at MISSOURI.EDU> wrote:

> P.S.  In my case, the expression fits perfectly when I've been debating
> with myself whether/when to act or a group has been discussing a possible
> move and I/we make a decision to act, whether after a few seconds or
> after a longer time.  It's so "I'd say that" that I don't see why it
> seems strange to others.
> DMLance

In my case, too, the expression fits perfectly in that context, and "I'd
say that" in the same situation.

The "secretarial" usage I was trying to describe, however, is in situations
where there is NO overt context of permission, hesitation-then-resolve,
etc.  Rather, it's become a meaningless preface to almost every verb.

Lynne may be on the right track in suggesting that it arose among
secretaries because they're used to needing permission to do everything.
If so, though, it's become so ingrained that it's used by some even in
contexts where permission--or resolve-after-hesitation or whatever--is not
involved, at least overtly.

Even though I'd also use "go ahead and" in the same contexts Donald would,
I'm sure I'd never "go ahead and" NOT do something in any context except,
perhaps, a creatively facetious one.

Peter Mc.

> "Donald M. Lance" wrote:
>> Not just secretaries.  I'm sure I've been using it for years.
>> DMLance
>> "Peter A. McGraw" wrote:
>> > 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

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

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