"can I get a..."

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Jun 5 11:46:02 UTC 2006

I never noticed this while living in N.Y.C., 1950s through mid-' 70s.

  I grew up saying, "I'd like a...," which now alternates with "I need a...."  "(Have) you got a...?" seems as though it goes way back, but only when there's some doubt that the item is available.


Lynne Murphy <m.l.murphy at SUSSEX.AC.UK> wrote:  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Lynne Murphy
Subject: "can I get a..."

Can anyone tell me if anything's been written about "can I get a" as a
request form, as in "Can I get a double decaf cappuccino?"?

It's one of those things that's derided here as Americanism--with two
Englishmen I've talked to saying that it sounds like the customer is asking
to come to the other side of the counter and make themselves a coffee.
It's stereotypically associated with Starbucks culture and revival meetings
("Can I get a witness?" "Can I get an 'amen'?")--both pretty American

I ask because I've just started a blog about US/UK dialectal differences
that I run into on a daily basis. If you're interested, it's at:



Dr M Lynne Murphy
Senior Lecturer in Linguistics and English Language
Arts B133
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QN

phone: +44-(0)1273-678844

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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