[Ads-l] "were pick'n up"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Mar 2 03:52:30 UTC 2015

> On Mar 1, 2015, at 5:48 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> On Sun, Mar 1, 2015 at 3:54 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
> wrote:
>>> A number of -(e)n
>>> participles are partially or fully retained in adjectival
>>> use--boughten loaves, spitten images, [new-]mown lawns, graven
>>> images, [clean-]shaven faces, [mis]shapen bodies, [un]proven
>>> allegations--after they've completely or, as with "proven" largely,
>>> fallen out of use as verbal past/passive participles.
> John Sebastian's "_new-mowed_ lawn" has annoyed me for dekkids. OTOH, since
> I was specifically taught - in high school, where I learned The Man's
> English - that _proven_, still alive and kicken ;-) in StL, was
> "incorrect," I'm always surprised, when I find it still used in literature
> and dialogue, after all these years.

Right; I was subconsciously "correcting" Sebastian's lyric above (for you young'uns, Wilson was quoting John Sebastian's lead in The Lovin' Spoonful's "(What a day for a) daydream", Nineteen-sixty-circa-too-stoned-to-really-remember), but on closer mental examination followed by iTunes confirmation, I think I have the answer:  dissimilation!

The verse in question:

And even if time ain't really on my side
It's one of those days for takin' a walk outside
I'm blowin' the day to take a walk in the sun
And fall on my face on somebody's new-mowed lawn

My hypothesis is that a "mown" in that last line would clash with the "blowin'" in the penultimate one.  Too much assonance and near-rhymes or something.  Or not.  But that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.  Did you ever have to make up your mind?


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

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