F*** with = have sex with?

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Tue Dec 13 00:49:32 UTC 2005

On Dec 12, 2005, at 2:09 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> To those who think of "fuck" as 1. intr. To copulate. trans. (Rarely
> used with female subject.) To copulate with; to have sexual
> connection with.", "fuck with" doesn't sound wrong, but mutually
> participatory.

it's the first part of this that's important here, the intransitive
"fuck".  as usual, there are syntactic and semantic complexities that
"intr. To copulate." only hints at.  with plural subjects, things are
fairly straightforward: "they fucked" means they engaged together in
fucking, which in the real world conveys that one of them fucked (in
some relevant sexual sense; the details differ in context) the other
(this usage is usefully indifferent to the sexes of the participants).

with singular subjects, things are more complicated, and i'm aware
that there is variation.  for me, the intransitive subject can refer
to the receptor in fucking, especially in generic sentences -- "Kim
fucks like a mink" 'Kim freely and enthusiastically offers herself/
himself for fucking' (an example uttered to me some years ago, though
i have  changed the (female) name in question) -- and the insertor
can be specified by an adverbial PP in benefactive "for" or
comitative "with": "Kim will fuck for/with big guys".  also possible
is an event description ("Kim fucked for/with Tom last night"),
though this might require more contextualization than the generics.
this is the reading i got for the example we started with, and for
most of jesse's examples, which have subjects denoting women who get
fucked.  that is, just intransitive "fuck" with receptor subject and
a comitative PP referring to the other participant in the deed.  no
idioms involved (for me).

less easy for me to get, but still possible with contextualization,
is the intransitive subject referring to the insertor.  again,
generics are, i think, easier: "Tom fucks like a pile-driver".
still,  event descriptions are possible ("Tom fucked for hours"), and
the other participant can be specified in a comitative PP ("Tom
fucked with Kim for hours").  or, of course, by a direct object, in a
transitive clause: "Tom fucked Kim for hours").

arnold (zwicky at csli.stanford.edu)

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