Missing PREP differing by dialect

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Apr 2 15:58:34 UTC 2008

At 11:14 AM -0400 4/2/08, Wilson Gray wrote:
>"He shit/shat himself"
>"He pissed himself"
>vs. BE:
>"He shitted _on_ himself"
>"He pissed _on_ himself."
Actually, the latter two forms are perfectly acceptable in varieties
of WE I'm familiar with, and there's a slight
semantic/pragmatic/register difference between the two versions.  If
I inadvertently allow a couple of drops to hit my shoe, I pissed on
myself, but I didn't piss myself.  This actually follows from the
general association with direct objects and "affectedness", as in the
difference between loading the hay onto the truck and loading the
truck with the hay.  I also suspect there may be another difference
here for many speakers besides that of degree-of-affectedness:

He intentionally shat/pissed on himself.
??He intentionally shat/pissed himself.

Perhaps not all WE speakers share this latter intuition.


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

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