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

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Thu Dec 20 02:09:23 UTC 2001

larry horn:
 >At 3:26 PM -0500 12/19/01, Dennis R. Preston wrote:
 >>I'm mostly in agreement so far, but "managed to": does not for me
 >>imply intending or trying. Sentences like "Well, you managed to go
 >>get yourself in trouble again" imply that you have been
 >>inattentive, imprudent, etc...., but not that you set out to get
 >>yourself in trouble. Maybe originally ironic, but I doubt if that
 >>obtains now in this construction.

 >For me, the ironic sense is still palpable in those cases.  I could
 >live with "succeeded in Ving" rather than "managed to V" if the
 >irony hasn't frozen with the former for you.  For me, "He managed to
 >get the clap" and "He succeeded in getting the clap" are both pretty

i'm entirely with dInIs here.  i have literal SUCCEED and MANAGE,
which involve effortful intentionally goal-directed activity, and i
have ironic uses of these, in which the expected effort and/or
intention are missing from the actual activity, but i also have uses
of these verbs in which effort and intention are bleached away,
leaving only the end-state, plus an affective judgment, of surprise/
unexpectedness/dismay/marveling, on the part of the speaker.  (this
would then be yet another shift from an objective to a subjective
stance in the meaning of lexical items.  as is usual in such shifts,
the newer subjective meaning coexists with the older objective
meaning and with an intermediate, deliberately displaced or extended,
use, irony or exaggeration or understatement or whatever.)

i have an old classroom war story, about an introductory linguistics
student who understood the difference between nouns and adjectives,
but reversed the words NOUN and ADJECTIVE in referring to the denotata
in question.  i *could* have told the story more or less like this,
but instead, what i always say is something along the lines that this
student "(somehow) managed to get the category names exactly
reversed".  i don't thing this is ironic.  it certainly expresses
astonishment on my part; i think this is the only thing it expresses
that goes beyond the plainer alternative "(somehow) got the category
names exactly reversed".  (if i think about what i'm saying, i can see
that my usage probably originated in irony - but all i'm conveying is
straightforward astonishment.)

i could contextualize the clap examples similarly: joey's had a
terrible year: his dog died on him, he failed ling 100, and somehow he
  managed to get the clap / succeeded in getting the clap.

arnold (zwicky at csli.stanford.edu)

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