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

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sun Feb 10 21:04:46 UTC 2008

At 2/10/2008 12:12 PM, Damien Hall wrote:
>Joel said:
> > Therefore I agree that "shew me out the postern"
> > in this context can mean "escort me out the back
> > way".  It could also, but does not have to, mean
> > (as I wondered) "show me where the back gate is"
> > (an interpretation supported by Doeg's asking
> > "Where's the postern?" ); in this case, Doeg
> would see himself out the gate.
>Setting my German-calque suggestion aside, since
>there doesn't seem to be any of
>that influence here (shame though;  I enjoyed doing that ten minutes of
>research), there's another thing.  This had been at the back of my mind;  I
>knew there was something funny about the first sentence uttered by Doeg, but
>couldn't quite put my finger on it.
>If Doeg had meant 'escort me to / through the
>postern', how likely is it that he
>would have said 'shew me out ___ the postern' (which he did say) and not 'shew
>me out of the postern'?  That is:
>- Do you think that the version without 'of' is less formal than the version
>with 'of'?  That's certainly how it strikes me.  (cf 'He walked out (of) the
>door' and other parallel sentences, where, to me, the variation creates the
>same effect.)
>- If so, is such a degree of informality likely
>to appear in a play written on a
>Biblical (sc. serious) subject by a clergyman?  I don't think it is.
>- Thirdly, does the 'of-less' variant of the construction date back to 1845 in
>any case?  (It may well - I am continually surprised by the early datings of
>constructions I had thought of as modern - but there's still the point about

So not only the British lost their prepositions?

>To me, all these things point to the greater likelihood that 'Shew me out the
>postern' is to be interpreted not as 'Escort me to / through the postern' but
>as 'Show me where the postern is':  the conclusion arrived at by independent
>means by Joel and Mark above.  Then, of course, we're back to the question of
>why it's 'shew me out' and not just 'shew me', but maybe some of the things
>that were said earlier about parallelism with *point out* apply.

I would guess the "out" is because Doeg is within
Nabal's enclosed farmstead, and wishes to get out
and back to the presumed safety of Saul's entourage.

And Arnold Zwicky wote:
>MWDEU (p.702): A few commentators observe that the of is superfluous
>most of the time, or sometimes­depending on whose opinion you are
>reading­when out is used with verbs of motion.  The observation,
>however, is not especially useful, for out and out of are
>interchangeable only in a very few restricted contexts; out simply
>cannot be substituted for out of in most cases.

But "shew" is not  a verb of motion?


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