to early/absentee vote

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sun Nov 2 15:06:22 UTC 2008

 From Language Log reader Drew Ward to me a few days ago:

  This month I have been hearing formations such as “John early voted
today.” (local news) or “Many more people this year have decided to
early vote.” (CNN)

Today I also heard this trend being applied to absentee voting with a
local news station following up a story on early voting with “You can
also absentee vote this week.”  Whereas in the past I know I’ve always
heard “vote absentee” or “vote by absentee ballot”.

lots of google hits for "to early vote" and "early voted", a few for
"to absentee vote" and "absentee voted".

Thousands line up to early vote. Submitted by ryanteaguebeckwith on
October 17, 2008

Some people in Clayton County are standing in line for four hours just
to early-vote."

Oct 28, 2008 ... We early voted friday.. whew… I was relieved.. and
felt proud as well for my vote choice…

I Early Voted for Barack Today! by Arkieboy. Mon Oct 27, 2008 at
01:11:38 PM PDT . My wife kicked me out of the house today. Told me to
go hang out in the ...

Sep 25, 2008 ... "This will be my third year to absentee vote,"
Gnidovec said.
Absentee.Voting.Eases.Process .For.Students-3450749.shtml

How to absentee vote in Louisiana. Posted Sep 7th 2007 10:00AM by Mike

Nov 1, 2008 ... If you have absentee voted already stop in and say hi.

Oct 29, 2008 ... Have you either early voted or absentee voted in the
2008 Election? Yes. No. Other (Tell us below!)

these formations look to me not like an unusual placement of the
modifiers "early" and "absentee", but rather like back-formations from
"early/absentee voting/voter".  the result seems to function as a
lexical unit (note the hyphenated "early-vote" example).

for "early vote", there's a clear advantage to having such a unit,
since "vote early" could refer to voting early on election day, while
"early vote" refers specifically to institutionalized procedures for
voting before election day.

(i posted on Language Log a little while ago about a somewhat
different back-formation:

   AZ, 8/22/08: To gay marry:

with the verb back-formed from "gay marriage".)


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