Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Sep 26 15:32:43 UTC 2007

At 10:36 AM -0400 9/26/07, Charles Doyle wrote:
>OK, a person (at least a male; do the same expressions commonly
>refer to female activities of the corresponding sort?) can "take a
>X"; X can be "whiz" or "leak" or "piss" or "pee" or "shit" or "dump"
>or "dooky" or possibly other eliminations of a nether sort--but NOT
>*"turd" or *"urine."
>The object of "take" designates an action (an act of X-ing), not
>just the substance deposited. Even though the permissible X's are
>clearly nouns (preceded by the definite article), the allowable X
>words can, in other environments, function as verbs, whereas "turd"
>and "urine" can't.
>There must be exceptions or outright contradictions to this little hypothesis!
>And then there are upper-body eliminations: We can't *"take a spit"
>or *"take a vomit." In our expressions, "take" seems to imply
>premeditation, deliberation, perhaps even a certain formality.
Maybe there is a [premeditated event] involved, with a beginning, a
middle, and an end.  "Take a shit/piss/..." are treated as closer to
"Take a bath/shower/dip" [which share these features] than to farting
or sneezing, say, or as you point out to barfing or spitting.  I'm
not quite sure what you mean by a "certain formality", but I'm on
board with the general idea.


P.S.  Any reason why sexual acts (solo or joint), which share the
above Aktionsart description, don't take "take"?  (*They took a fuck)

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

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