getting his freak

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Jun 3 20:38:21 UTC 2010

At 4:01 PM -0400 6/3/10, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>On Thu, Jun 3, 2010 at 2:40 PM, Paul Frank <paulfrank at> wrote:
>>  From today's Washington Post:
>>  "The females had what you might call a casual attitude toward sex," a
>>  detective said, adding that Carter "was busy getting his freak on with
>>  the younger lady."
>>  I need to get out more, because the term "to get his freak on" is new
>>  to me. Then again, folks outside my doorstep speak French (and
>>  Portuguese and Gheg Albanian, but not English), so it probably
>>  wouldn't do me much good.
>A quick check of the archives finds discussion of "get your freak on"
>and the more general form "get your X on" from 1999 and 2005:
>As discussed in the latter thread, "get (one's) groove on" is likely
>the founding form, dating to the early '90s.
Ah, a Michael Gottlieb sighting/citing (the 1999 one).  He was an
undergraduate in my Dialects class, but I lost touch with him (unlike
with Ben!) after he graduated from Yale.  His example

Gonna get my drink on.  (get drunk)

was (8 years) later turned into a country song by Toby Keith, which I
know about (thanks, Will Salmon!) because of the nifty personal
dative* in the second line:

I'm gonna get my drink on
I'm gonna hear me a sad song
My baby just left home
I didn't treat her right
[etc. etc.]


*Nifty because while it's been claimed that personal datives are
disfavored by perception verbs like "see" and "hear", they're
actually fine for many speakers, or singers, when such verbs are used
with intentional meanings--the guy here went out on purpose to find
the (doubtless) sad country song to torture himself with, even if he
has to put his own quarter into the jukebox.

The American Dialect Society -

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