"work construction" 'do construction work'

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Dec 31 01:59:07 UTC 2008

At 7:34 PM -0500 12/30/08, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>On Tue, Dec 30, 2008 at 7:01 PM, Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at stanford.edu> wrote:
>>  heard this in a tv ad, though it was certainly familiar -- and there
>>  are very large numbers of relevant hits for "work/works/worked/working
>>  construction".  not in the OED,  so far as i can tell.
>>  there are plenty of instances of "do N work" (N = volunteer,
>>  missionary, upholstery, kitchen, plumbing, charity, voiceover,
>>  inpatient, ...).  but none in the "work N" pattern with the
>>  appropriate meaning, it seems.  so, a very specific idiom.
>There's also "work retail". Plenty of Googlehits for "I worked retail" and the
>"Work construction/retail" strikes me as elliptical for "work *in*
Then there are the constructions (no pun intended) with gerundive objects:

"work shipping"
"work shipping and receiving"

or places

"work the mail room"

or times

"work nights/the night shift"

although the latter "objects" are more likely adverbial rather than
nominal.  In fact none of these behave wholly like nouns; for one
thing they don't readily passivize:

"{Construction/Shipping/Retail/The night shift} has long been worked
in this town for meager pay"


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list