Grammar Girl's "needs done" survey

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Sep 9 17:17:22 UTC 2011

Grammar Girl has posted her "needs washed" podcast, and on her website she has a
map plotting her informal self-report survey:

I've posted about this on Language Log, including our discussion of the Obama
false alarm:


On Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 1:56 PM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> On Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 1:16 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
> >
> > On Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 12:11 PM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> > > with folksy dropped g
> >
> > You mean "with the standard dropped g of Black English, Southern
> > English, Southwestern English, Western English, etc.," of course.
> >
> > When you make a point of describing Obama's speech as "folksy," here,
> > you make it appear that you think that his use of "dropped g" is
> > unnatural or artificial, that he's merely faking it in order to appear
> > down with the common people or some such thing.
> >
> > OTOH, if you had written "with gutless dropped g," implying an effort
> > on Obama's part not to appear to be too erudite, hence too uppity or
> > too biggity, lest he annoy any Republicans who may have condescended
> > to concern themselves with what he had to say, well, naturally, I'd
> > gladly cosign that.
> Didn't mean to imply that Obama's g-dropping was "unnatural" (I don't really
> know how "natural" it is for his idiolect), but it's certainly a feature that
> Obama, like many other politicians, varies for rhetorical effect (or for
> Goffmanian self-presentation, if you prefer). In the context of his Labor Day
> speech, it appears to be used as a way of forming solidarity with his audience
> and to "folksify" the subject matter, much as Mark Liberman described in his
> Language Log post, "Empathetic -in'":

Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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