Query for Southern(er)s, Southrons, or...

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Dec 19 01:47:30 UTC 2001

...anyone else in the relevant dialect:

We've spent some sporadic time discussing the construction extant in
parts of the South and Appalachia variously referred to as the
"Personal Dative" (Christian 1991), "Southern American Double Object"
(Dannenberg & Webelhuth 2000), dialectal or bound pronominal (e.g.
Sroda & Mishoe 1995), or ethical dative (various sources).  This
involves the appearance immediately after the main verb of an
ordinary objective pronoun (rather than a reflexive) coreferring with
the subject; generally a "real" object must also be present, and it
must be quantified.  The verb in question is not normally a
ditransitive.  Some sample cites (in each case, coreference between
subject and "dative" is assumed):

[musical exx.]
I married me a pretty little wife
I'm gonna buy me a shotgun, just as long as I am tall.
I'm gonna catch me a freight train.
Get you a copper kettle, get you a copper coil.  [underlying 2d person subject]

[non-musical exx.]
He's gonna buy him a pickup.
I seen me a mermaid once.
She wants her some chitlins.
Papa needs him some new boots.
What I like is goats.  I jus' like to look at me some goats.   [title
of Sroda & Mishoe 1995]

Now the query:

On the assumption that the pronoun in question is not a true object
of the verb but a marker implicating that the action or event in
question represents success/good fortune for the subject, I've been
wondering if the following judgments (from this non-native speaker)
are on- or off-base.  (Feel free to replace these with clearer
examples of your own.)

(1)  *She fed her some chitlins.

(2)a.  *She gave her a big raise.   (vs. pandialectally OK:  She gave
herself a big raise.)
     b.  She got her a big raise.

(3)a.  *I caught me a cold.   [or maybe OK if I was trying to catch a cold?]
     b.  I caught me a catfish.

(4)a.  He shot him two squirrels.
     b.  *He (got drunk and) shot him two coonhounds (by mistake).

(5)a.  He got him a case of beer.
     b.  *He got him a case of the clap.

Thanks for your time & judgments.


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