Missing PREP differing by dialect

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Apr 3 14:50:15 UTC 2008

I'm with Charlie, except that I was still in my twenties, when I first
heard it. I've never been able to get accustomed to the PREP-less form
because it feels like nonsense: someone ate a pair of pants and then
shitted them or somehow pissed them (out)?

OTOH, FWIW, on those few occasions when I've come across "beshat," the
"beshat" clothing was or had been discarded. Unfortunately, the only
thing that I can recall beyond this is that the usage was British. It
"seems" to me that it was in something fictional that I read
concerning hooliganism at football (soccer) games. I also seem to
remember something about rogues finding a Milquetoast, pissing from
the higher stands immediately behind him into the poor bloke's jacket
pocket and daring him to make a move, even merely to step aside. Or is
that from "A Clockwork Orange"?

BTW, is there anyone willing to explain the meaning of this title or
to deconstruct it in some way? Is it an orange composed of clockwork?
Or clockwork that's orange in color? Has it a point? Or WTF?


On Thu, Apr 3, 2008 at 9:45 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>  Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Missing PREP differing by dialect
>  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 9:16 AM -0400 4/3/08, Charles Doyle wrote:
>  >Arnold, what I did mention in my note in AS 52(1977):28 was "shit"
>  >+/- "in" + "one's pants."
>  Ah, I still get the <+/- affectedness> distinction there.  If he shit
>  in his pants, a bit of scrubbing followed by detergent and the hot
>  water setting might do the trick.  If he shit his pants, best to just
>  toss 'em out.  (Talk about putting the "object" back in "direct
>  object"...)
>  LH
>  >A native (and lifelong) speaker of a "Southern" dialect, I had never
>  >heard "shit" used without a preposition ("in" or "on") until I was
>  >middle aged.
>  >
> >--Charlie
>  >_____________________________________________________________
>  >
>  >---- Original message ----
>  >>Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2008 09:47:12 -0700
>  >>From: "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
>  >>
>  >>On Apr 2, 2008, at 8:58 AM, Larry Horn wrote:
>  >>
>  >>>  At 11:14 AM -0400 4/2/08, Wilson Gray wrote:
>  >>>>  WE:
>  >>>>  "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"...
>  >>
>  >>i thought the shit/piss cases were in the list of P~zero alternations
>  >>from charlie doyle's 1977 Am Sp paper, which he mentioned here back on
>  >>11 february -- but apparently not.  in any case, a number of those
>  >>variants differ subtly in conveyed meaning, and for some
>  >>"affectedness" seems to be at issue (beat up (on) a person, play (on)
>  >>a piano).
>  >>
>  >>the connection between direct objects and affectedness is a nice
>  >>(though subtle) example of iconicity in grammar: closely linked
>  >>objects (i.e., direct objects) tend to be understood as denoting more
>  >>affected referents, and less closely linked objects (i.e., oblique
>  >>objects, marked by prepositions) tend to be understood as denoting
>  >>less affected, more tangentially connected, referents.  tighter
>  >>syntactic connection, more direct connection in meaning.
>  >>
>  >>(this is not a novel observation of mine, by the way.  for
>  >>"functionalist" linguists, it's a commonplace.)
>  >>
>  >>bonus observation: all this means that "direct object" is not a half-
>  >>bad name for this syntactic function.  not exactly transparent, and
>  >>certainly not a definition, but suggestive.
>  >>
> >>arnold
>  >
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