A Pennsylvanian?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Jul 29 02:49:34 UTC 2011

That does seem odd to me, and perhaps part of what makes the violation (if there is one) less palpable is the separation, so let's try it without that intervening material:

Pets Not Allowed Left Unattended

While this *could* be a "needs washed" construction (with an understood or deleted "to be", as you note), it needn't be, because there's another plausible reading, akin to

Pets (are) not allowed (if/when they're) left unattended.

This kind of paraphrase is impossible with the actual Pennsylania et al. construction:  *This car needs (when/if) it's washed.
Rather, the paraphrase is more like "needs to be Xed" or "needs Xing", as is frequently noted.

The reading I'm suggesting for the Oregon sign (= Pets aren't allowed if they're in buildings or if they're left unattended) sounds awkward to me but not impossible, while the "needs/wants/likes + p. ppl" ones I recognize as being good in another dialect but not mine. YMMV.


On Jul 28, 2011, at 10:35 PM, David Bowie wrote:

> For another (but rather different) datapoint on this sort of thing,
> consider the sign that i saw near Heceta Head Lighthouse (located in a
> state park in Oregon) earlier this week:
> Pets Not Allowed
> in Buildings or
> Left Unattended
> As far as i could tell, this was an official sign erected by whatever
> division of the Oregon state government is in charge of parks.
> At first i thought that this was a "needs Xed" issue, because it's only
> grammatical for my non-needs-Xed self if it's rephrased as "Pets not
> allowed in buildings or to be left unattended." (I realize that the
> non-parallel nature of the conjoined bits would create problems for
> others, but it doesn't for me—and that's a different issue, anyway.)
> On closer reflection, though, i don't think that this is pure needs Xed,
> either. I'm not as clear on my syntax as i probably should be any more,
> but the "allowed" makes it *feel* different to me. Does anyone who's up
> on their needs Xed varieties know what the effect of a preceding allow
> (or seem, or want) is for them?
> --
> David Bowie
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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