Idiolect or more widespread?

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue May 30 19:23:02 UTC 2006

On 5/30/06, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at> wrote:
> i know, some of you out there are saying that you absolutely *never*
> write, or even say, "off of".  again, it's possible that your belief
> is accurate, but we know that such judgments are incredibly
> undependable.  it's likely that at least a few uses of "off" are so
> natural with "of" for you that you just don't notice them in your own
> productions.  remember that this "of" has had 500 years to spread,
> and it can be heard and seen all over the place, from Pepys and
> Steele to the New York Times.  it's hard to believe that someone
> could manage to avoid picking up a few types of "off of".

And who can deny these lyrical uses?

Lay off of them blue suede shoes.
I can't take my eyes off of you.
Hey! You! Get off of my cloud.
Ma, take this badge off of me. I can't use it any more.
Get up off of that thing, and dance till you feel better.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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