babysitting for

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Mar 27 06:04:46 UTC 2001

At 1:16 PM -0500 3/27/01, Bethany K. Dumas wrote:
>Back when I babysat, I babysat for .. the parents, not the child. I might have
>said something like: "I'm babybsitting for the Smiths tonight" or "I'm
>babysitting for Martha so she and her husband can go to the baasketball game."
>I never babysat "<for> a child.
>se TX early 1950s

Yes, and it's not possible to "baby-sit Martha" in the "new" usage if
Martha is the mother, only if she's the child.  I have both usages:
baby-sit X (where X is the child, an argument of the verb) vs.
baby-sit for Y (where Y is the parent, a benefactive adjunct).  AHD4
lists the transitive use of "baby-sit" (where the object denotes the
child, plant, etc. that one substitute-tends) without a date, so I
assume it's not all that new.


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