Disappeared as transitive

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Mar 18 13:22:54 UTC 2013

On Mar 18, 2013, at 2:38 AM, Benjamin Torbert wrote:

> We use disappear as transitive all the time in my family to
> a) Express getting some crap out of my mother's house that she doesn't know
> about the disappearance of
> or
> b) Hiding some potentially negative influence on my 3yo son.  Such as
> refined flour or refined sugar.  "I disappeared the lillipops."
> Whether we borrowed this usage from Argentina, I'm not sure.  Sounds
> plausible.
We may have.  My learning trajectory was what had been described earlier by Jon, Ben, et al.:  first from Catch-22, where "disappear" not only occurs but led to a whole riff (IIRC, Yossarian objected to the information that one of his soldiers or officers had been disappeared by protesting that "disappear" isn't a transitive verb), and then from translations from the Argentinian dirty war, referencing "los disparecidos".  It's also a very plausible invention in child English; between 3 and 5 there's a lot of extension of semi-productive verbal morphology, from un-verbs ("Daddy, uninside-out my pjs!" from one of my own) and causatives in particular ("sing her the song" = 'make her/get her to sing the song").  "Disappearing" the lollipops would be a natural formation by, or presumably to or about, children of this age.


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