Having cake . . .

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Sep 24 18:49:34 UTC 2007

My vicarious recollections of the 19th C. tell me that the usual form then was "to eat one's cake and have it." Arguably it's more logical that way.

  Anyhow, I've never heard that version in living use.  Has anyone?


"Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Arnold M. Zwicky"
Subject: Re: Having cake . . .

On Sep 24, 2007, at 9:48 AM, Charlie Doyle wrote:

> This morning's campus newspaper has a filler item from AP:
> Residents of a "senior center" in New York State are protesting a
> recent ban on doughnuts at the facility. In the accompanying
> picture, beside a demonstrater holding a neatly-printed sign that
> reads "We're Old Enough to Choose" stands another with a sign
> inscribed "We Want our Cake and Eat It Too!!" Interesting grammar.

maybe a telescoping of "want to have our cake and eat it too".
perhaps distantly related to GoToGo ("I'm going right out and buy
myself a new stepladder" -- Jimmy Stewart's character in Vertigo).
classic GoToGo has the motion verb GO in the present participle, with
a direction adverbial, but there are innovative variants with other
motion verbs and variants without the adverbial. and then Laura
Staum reported the following on 9/14:

This was so good I almost wasn't sure it was one. Comes from a flyer
that a local realtor left on our doorstep:

If you are interested in buying or selling and save lots of money...
I'd love the opportunity to make your dreams come true!

AMZ reply 9/15:

wow. *way* far off the canonical examples. "V-ing and V-base",
with the first verb not a verb of motion and with the V-ing nominal
rather than verbal (progressive).


Joel Wallenberg once suggested there might be a tendency towards
using V-base in second conjuncts -- sort of V-base as a conjunctive
verb form. there are parallels in many languages.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Building a website is a piece of cake.
Yahoo! Small Business gives you all the tools to get online.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list