"work construction" 'do construction work'

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Wed Dec 31 19:23:50 UTC 2008

On Dec 30, 2008, at 6:04 PM, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
> Subject:      Re: "work construction" 'do construction work'
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> 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 are, I think, other examples of "work N". To my mind right now
> come "work sales", "work retail", and "work landscaping". I don't know
> the relative frequencies but I'm sure I've heard all of these in the
> wild.

yes, indeed.  here's one example of each.  more can be googled up.  so
it looks like there's a small idiom pattern "work N", and people pick
up specific Ns in the pattern one by one.

I worked sales for this company long enough to put thousands of miles
on my vehicle running sales leads.

When I worked retail I used to bring a second pair of shoes to change
into ... I worked retail many moons ago.

I worked landscaping as a teen, and it's been a personal hobby the few
times I' ve been fortunate enough to have a yard (none lately).

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

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

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