[Ads-l] Trivia: _to_ vs. _for_

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Nov 17 16:22:57 UTC 2015

> On Nov 17, 2015, at 2:03 AM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
> For dekkids, I've noticed the annoying replacement of "to" by "for," here
> and there. I've found it difficult to find a clear, quotable example, let
> alone a citable one. Of course, I don't sit around listening for examples
> of the replacement of "to" by for. I simply notice that someone has done,
> but I can't recall the exact sentence.
> I've now heard this replacement in an idiom. So, I can recall it. A black
> guy on TV asks
> "Why don't you _run it down *for*_ me?"
> IME, it's been only,
> "... run it down *to* .,."
> for about the past 75 years.

This is another case where individual speakers may be making a slight but real distinction in semantics (although without affecting the "content"):  "run it down to me" emphasizes the transmission of information--I'm the goal; "run it down for me" emphasizes the effect on the recipient--I'm the beneficiary.  The run-it-downee is of course both a goal and a recipient, but the different prepositions stress different roles.

> But, life being what it is, the earliest GB date for _to_ is only 1971:
> Amending Further the Peace Corps Act, Hearing Before the ... -
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__books.google.com_books-3Fid-3DQckxydoEfo4C&d=AwIFaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=cvN3GUfvda4B4_uA8HWVYwk7fv8JK_12ck_QEfA_WWU&s=hY7jdggy27Ah69XdyTaA1cU8bRqXwIFo_l5H9lAn5io&e= 
> United States. Congress. House. Foreign Affairs - 1971 - ‎Snippet view
> He _ran it down *to*_ me about how I could enhance my own image of self by
> living and working in places where people have grown into Black pride
> naturally, where Black power is the status quo, and Black action is a
> working reality.
> The earliest example of _for_ is younger by three
> statistically-insignificant years:
> Oreo - Page 140
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__books.google.com_books-3Fisbn-3D1555534643&d=AwIFaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=cvN3GUfvda4B4_uA8HWVYwk7fv8JK_12ck_QEfA_WWU&s=FXq26vtdZfa_64b_omZUV5fGoxdREhf_045XHW2o9E4&e= 
> Fran Ross - 1974 - ‎Preview
> She found the usual: ... _RUN IT DOWN *FOR*_ ME ...
> -- 
> -Wilson
> -----
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -Mark Twain
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=AwIFaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=cvN3GUfvda4B4_uA8HWVYwk7fv8JK_12ck_QEfA_WWU&s=i-kg20KHvfZZkSCq1jsY11f0MI1zQeFUfI18vTCmiZM&e= 

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

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