Idiolect or more widespread?

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Tue May 30 21:24:37 UTC 2006

On May 30, 2006, at 12:23 PM, Ben Zimmer wrote:

> ... 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.  [X]
> Get up off of that thing, and dance till you feel better.

lovely.  i'm sure there are more.

the one i've marked with an X is of special interest.  for me,
   Take this badge off me.
is an instruction to remove the badge from my body, while
   Take this badge off of me.
can have this meaning, but can also refer to a more generalized kind
of taking -- merely taking it away, from my presence.

i'm always on the lookout for little meaning differences like this,
as part of a much larger project exploring Bolinger's Dictum (that
all lexical and syntactic variation is at least sometimes meaning-


The American Dialect Society -

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