Whiz & names (UNCLASSIFIED)

Dennis Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Wed Sep 26 11:10:06 UTC 2007

I have "take" + any defecation/urination word, and I am aware of
baby-talk (i.e., caregivers to very young children) "make" in the
same function - "Do you have to make pee-pees?," in which the further
oddity of 'pee-pee' as a count noun appears. If you "took whizzes,"
they would be independent occurrences.

The selection of semantically depleted verbs (ones where you must
wait for the noun to see what is going on) is a very interesting
topic. Although learners of 2nd lgs always attend to it (you "have"
hunger in Spanish and German for example but "are hungry" in English
and Polish), I don't know of any good crosslinguistic list of these
items, but they're fascinating. Notice, for example, how the
historical verb "dream" becomes a noun and then disqualifies itself
by redundancy in "dream a dream" (although "dream a very pleasant
dream" or any other interruptive seems to make cognate verb-object
constructions OK). Once "have" steps into this role, then it can be
used with "nightmare," which has no status as a verb at all.

I'd certainly be interested in seeing a crosslinguistic study of
these cognate verb-noun constructions. Has there been any work on


PS: I know Wilson, you can "walk the walk" and "talk the talk," so
don't give (make) that speech.

PPS: Notice how "sing the song" is OK because of the phonetic dissimilarity.

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>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       "Mullins, Bill AMRDEC" <Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL>
>Subject:      Re: Whiz & names (UNCLASSIFIED)
>Classification:  UNCLASSIFIED
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>And why, for that matter, is it "take" a whiz?  I always _leave_ one,
>myself . . .
>>  FWIW, though I've heard it since ca.1960 and understand "take a whiz,"
>>  what I say is, "take a leak." Now, if we all switched to the
>>  latter, it would obviate the problem. ;-)
>>  -Wilson
>Classification:  UNCLASSIFIED
>Caveats: NONE
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
Morrill Hall 15-C
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48864 USA

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

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