Prescriptive Linguists

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 30 22:16:54 UTC 2008

Well, it does kinda, sorta depend upon what you're accustomed to
hearing. When I was in the the Army, a fellow GI, a white native of
Darien, Connecticut, and a Stanford dropout, was flabbergasted to hear
a white, Southern cook tell him to "git you a tray." He couldn't
believe that such a sentence could be spoken by any native speaker of
English. "'Get you a tray'?! 'Get you a tray'?! What the fuck kind of
English is that?!"

It sounds fine to me. I wonder what he would have thought of the black
DJ who commented, "I'm jus' sittin' heah, eatin' own me a hamboiguh"
or the blues line, "I laid down las' night, thankin' about me a mojo
hane," abstracting away from the phonetics, of course.


On 1/30/08, Michael H Covarrubias <mcovarru at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Michael H Covarrubias <mcovarru at PURDUE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Prescriptive Linguists
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Quoting "David A. Daniel":
> > ...If said descendants were Portuguese/Brazilian we would get a lot
> > of "I go to the cinema with the my friend Carlos," or "The your mother is
> > you calling," or "Where is the my car new?" (Italian too). Just because a
> > seemingly fluent speaker says something doesn't make it correct even
> > acceptable, or even understandable, among those who do not share the same
> > multi-linguistic background/knowledge.
> > DAD
> >
> A "multi-linguistic background/knowledge" isn't necessary for these structures
> to occur or be understood, if I understand correctly that you mean
> proficiency/competence/familiarity or even just more than passing exposure to
> more than one language.
> While in my example another language provided an analogy that made the
> ditransitive use of "saw" understandable in the sentence "he's the one that saw
> you your hands" I could also have taken an analogy from  English itself: for
> example a sentence like "He's the one that wrote you the letter."
> Are you saying that it's only because of language contact that such a structure
> exists? Or are you saying that it's only because of contact that the
> acceptability of ditransitive use creeps onto other verbs?
> michael
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