"Call you crazy but..."

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jun 4 19:56:54 UTC 2008

Yup, this appears to be an extension of the rather more common "Call
me crazy but..."  It occurs in a currently aired GEICO commercial, in
which the insurance company attempts to appeal to those who
(surprisingly) are fond of avoiding unnecessary expense.  The full
line (just confirmed on the internet) is:

Instead of paying more for car insurance you'd rather pay less. Call
you crazy but for some strange reason you like saving money. ...

This sort of works, if at al, as a report of the addressee (the
putative insurance buyer) announcing "Call me crazy but...I like
saving money".  What is the subject of the above sentence? It's
obviously not 2d person, or it would be "Call yourself crazy".  (I'm
reminded of the immortal Quang Phuc Dong paper, "English sentences
without overt grammatical subject", which treats pseudo-imperatives
like "Goddamn those imperialist war-mongerers" and "Fuck you".)
Maybe the underlying form is something like

"[Let them] call you crazy but..."

(I can't tell if GEICO invented this; it's hard to search for "Call
you crazy (but)" on google without case-sensitivity or a symbol for
the beginning of a sentence.)


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

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