Gone and V-ed

Donald M. Lance LanceDM at MISSOURI.EDU
Tue Nov 7 23:18:07 UTC 2000

"Peter A. McGraw" wrote:

> Like Lynne, I find it incredible that any speaker of American English would
> be unfamiliar with the "gone and..." construction. I doubt that I use it
> often myself, but it's certainly available in my active vocabulary.  And
> it's common enough in books (though probably only in dialog).  Have these
> students ever read a novel?!
> Certainly this use of "go" doesn't refer to motion.  It's something like
> "proceed to," except that, as Johanna and others have indicated, the verb
> it's used with denotes something undesirable or disapproved of by the
> speaker.  As far as I know, the full conjugation of "go" can be used in
> this way.  (E.g., to a child, "You WOULD go and eat ice cream before
> dinner, wouldn't you!"  Or, "So what does he do?  He goes and walks through
> a mud puddle in his brand new shoes!")

These figurative expressions are already at least one step away from [+literal], so if
'motion' is implicated, it would very likely also be nonliteral.  Someone suggested a
surprise element in them.  I buy this feature as being a likely core feature of these
expressions.  I suspect that there is a statistical tendency for these expressions to
occur when the surprise has negative more often than positive connotations.  Once a figure
of speech has taken on a negative smell, it is free to be used in irony -- or vice versa.
Meaning is in the mind of the speaker.  Would anyone assume negative implications if a
preacher said, "Well, looks like the Holy Ghost has done gone and taken over Mabel's whole
body!  Done hauled off and takened it away, done snatched it out of the hands of the
Devil!  She done went ahead and got herself saved!  Glory be!"

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