[SPAM:####] "depend NP on X" 'depend on NP for X'

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Mon Dec 8 16:14:08 UTC 2008

caught on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation ("Ending Happy", first aired
4/26/07): "They depended me on that" 'They depended on me for that'.
from the transcript at

(Brass interviews Connor Foster.)
CONNOR FOSTER: Okay. So I shot Happy. I hated that guy. But it was
self- defense.
BRASS: Self-defense, really? How?
CONNOR FOSTER: I myself was trying to defend the girls. They needed me
to protect them. They depended me on that. So that's what I done.
(whispers) This guy was a monster!
the character Connor Foster is drunk in this scene, so i thought that
maybe that was all that was going on.  but i did find a few further
"depend NP on" examples (from people who seem to be native speakers of
English): for example,
   I NEVER DEPENDED HIM ON ANYTHING but being there for me. I was
always doing things on my own and never wanted or asked him for a dime.
   [quoting earlier posting by Edward]  Hertz doesn't have this
policy, and I had to rent an SUV from them as a last moment thing,
because they didn't have any minivans to rent. Enterprise has cost me
more money because I depended them on a reservation that wasn't
the numbers are small enough, however, that they could just be speech
errors.  the following "depended them on" example almost surely is an
error, with the "them" anticipating a later "them":
   She longed to protect the family, learning the fighting arts like
her sister Esmaralde, but when she requested such, her aunt turned her
down immediately; to maintain the free and boundless lifestyle to
which the family had become accustomed, everyone had their own job,
and the quality of life depended them on them doing it efficiently and
without complaint.
but there is a possible route to "depend NP on X", namely via
transitivization of "depend" by "dropping the preposition" that marks
the object, taking intransitive "depend on NP" to transitive "depend
NP" (we've discussed other cases of transitivizing P-drop here in the
past).  some possible examples:
   I hope Angie slows down and gets the help she needs. Even with all
her money she wants to be mommy and not depend other people and if any
of you are mothers you can understand that. I just pray she gets help
and let Brad help her. Bless you Angie and love your movies and I for
one am a BIG FAN, you ROck GIRL.
-- CC
   Not every song a band makes is a hit, so you really have to put a
certain amount of effort in when it comes to finding good music
unfortunately (especially WN music). You can't always depend other
people to do so.
   This SPED dept has to be brought down for what they have done to
the families who depended them to give them answers.
this sort of transitivization would take "depend on NP for X" to
"depend NP for X", and there are a fair number of examples for that,
among them:
   Countless plant species depend them for propagation, including many
agricultural species that feed humanity. Yet in many areas, natural
bees are absent. ...
   Russia has grown rich and regained power because Europeans depend
them for their energy. The Democratic party has been instrumental in
crippling our sources ...
   More than 165 species of animals and insects depend them for
survival, including black-footed ferrets, coyotes, bald eagles, swift
fox, golden eagles, ...
now, if you have transitive "depend" you might still remember that
"depend" takes an oblique object marked by "on" and so use "on" for
the second object of "depend": "depend NP on X" is the result.  (this
is similar to the story about reversed "substitute" that i outlined
some time ago: the result is not exactly a combo, but it does have
features from two different sources.)

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

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