"Q: "show me out [something]" = show to me?

Sarah Lang slang at UCHICAGO.EDU
Thu Feb 7 07:30:14 UTC 2008

On Feb 6, 2008, at 1:28 PM, Arnold M. Zwicky wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "Q: "show me out [something]" = show to me?
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> On Feb 6, 2008, at 8:47 AM, Andrea Morrow wrote:
>>>       Doesn't it seem more likely that the speaker is asking to be
>>> escorted out the back way (the postern)?
>>> John Baker
>> Yes, that is how it seems to me, too - of the same type of
>> construction as "show me out the door,"  meaning "walk with me to the
>> door."
> also the reading i got.  i can't get "show out" as a dative verb, with
> any of the variants --
>    *show out the problems to me / *show out to me the problems
>    *show me out the problems
> and google provides no credible examples.  "point out" works, though:
>    point out the problems to me / point out to me the problems
>    point me out the problems
> (the last one seems very awkward to me, but there are quite a few
> relevant examples you can google up via {"point me out a"}.)
> plain "show" is, of course, usable as a dative verb.

Agreed. (Bonus points for Buffy.)

The dative in this case (esp thinking of the date, and the rather
often Latinate nature of English at that point) could be a hangover
use of the Dative of Direction (rare use, I know, but still
documented); or, again, if I am to think of a Latin construction, it
seems like a pretty standard (English) awkward use/translation of the

Now please tell me how horrid my Latin is,

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