Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Sep 27 00:49:14 UTC 2007

At 5:35 PM -0700 9/26/07, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>Larry, at no time while collecting 1.3. gazillion cites for HDAS
>over nearly forty years have I encountered anything like those "my
>ass" datives.
>   They are SOTAs, SOTAs I tell you.  Or they betray the existence of
>space aliens among us.
>   In either case, we must beware!
>   JL

Space aliens my ass.  Or theirs.  (One of our students who worked on
the construction found that the occurrence of "X's ass" in some of
the frames cited in the B&K-G paper Arnold cites below was
systematically rejected by his informants, which in turn affected the
conclusions of that paper, but many other examples of the kind Wilson
and I cite below were happily accepted.)


>Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
>   ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender: American Dialect Society
>Poster: Laurence Horn
>Subject: Re: Finally!
>At 2:48 PM -0700 9/26/07, Arnold M. Zwicky wrote:
>>On Sep 26, 2007, at 2:24 PM, Wilson Gray wrote, to dInIs:
>>>How does the following, heard on the tube, strike you:
>>>"Step your ass on into this house!"
>>>I have a friend who's used to hearing this kind of construction, but
>>>he doesn't really understand it, He often greets me by saying, "How's
>>>your ass?" For a long time, I couldn't understand his interest in the
>>>state of my arse. Then it occurred to me that he had assumed that
>>>"your ass" in constructions such as that above was could simply be
>>>replaced by "you."
>>ah, there's now a pulished account of "X's ass" for reference to
>>persons and things:
>>Beavers, John & Andrew Koontz-Garboden. 2006. A universal pronoun
>>in English?. Linguistic Inquiry 37.3.503-513. Download final
>  >published version (via Ingenta):
>Yes, I've been looking at these a lot lately, prompted by two of our
>grad students who discovered the paper above. Indeed, I'm about to
>give a talk in Paris about your ass (nothing personal) and related
>phenomena. It seems to be the one non-formally pronominal element
>that occurs in personal datives. Relevant data include:
>I have a 152 tested IQ and I love my ass some red meat.
>Movies, i love my ass some funny movies.
>I should take this time to state how much I LOVE my
>ass some Magma! Those guys fucking RULE!
>i need my ass some ginkgo biloba
>I want my ass some quesadillas
>But although these occur, they are really quite rare--my hypothesis
>is that it's because the personal dative (cf. the recent _American
>Speech_ paper by Webelhuth & Dannenberg) tends to be benefactive (the
>action or state is to the benefit of or under the control of the
>subject, as in "I want to eat me a hamburger" or "I love me some
>him"), while the _X's ass_ construction (as Beavers and
>Koontz-Garboden note) tends to involve negative qualities or
>imperfections of the ass-possessor. Of course there are lots and
>lots of hits for "I love my ass", but these refer to the body part in
>question and don't occur readily in the frames exemplified above,
>although they're not impossible and there may be individual
>variation. There are also some nice minimal pairs; "get your ass
>some help" allows the proctological (literal) reading alongside the
>psychotherapeutic (figurative) one, the latter showing up in contexts
>Not a man alive (or dead, for that matter) would put up with your
>whiney ass. Hmm, that explains a lot. Maybe you should get your ass
>some help instead?
>Get your ass some therapy or meds or both. What is wrong with your ass?
>Stop reading and get your ass some help. See a podiatrist if you have to.
>(Yup, a podiatrist.)
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