Laurence Urdang urdang at SBCGLOBAL.NET
Wed Sep 26 18:57:31 UTC 2007

Ha!  I'd always considered whizz [sic] to be onomatoPEEic.
  L. Urdang
  Old Lyme

"Dennis R. Preston" <preston at MSU.EDU> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Dennis R. Preston"

Subject: Re: Whiz

Interesting that the verb of choice for "a fart" is "to cut."


>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender: American Dialect Society
>Poster: Laurence Horn
>Subject: Re: Whiz
>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
>>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

It should be the chief aim of a university professor to exhibit
himself [sic] in his own true character - that is, as an ignorant man
thinking, actively utilizing his small share of knowledge. Alfred
North Whitehead

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
Morrill Hall 15-C
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1036 USA
Office: (517) 353-4736
Fax: (517) 353-3755

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

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

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