Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Apr 12 15:36:32 UTC 2009

At 8:23 AM -0700 4/12/09, Arnold Zwicky wrote:
>On Apr 11, 2009, at 6:28 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote about:
>>... "look at t" as an
>>interjective substitute for faux imperative exclamation "look"
>>(="consider this"). E.g., "Lookit, here's what we decided--take it or
>>leave it." At some point in the past, I noticed that this expression
>>commonly used by Rush Limbaugh, although I know a number of other
>>people who also use "look at t" exclusively where I would use "look". A
>>small number of people sometimes (non-exclusively) use "look here".
>>I don't know if it's a deform of "look at" or its own malapropism, but
>>it always creeps me out when people use it.
>not in AHD4, but the Oxford folks are on to it.  NOAD2 has an entry
>labeled "informal" for it, with subentries for a verb ('phonetic
>spelling of "look at"') and an exclamation ('used to draw attention to
>what one is about to say').  OED2 has an entry with the gloss
>'Listen!' and (surprisingly) no style or region label.  its etymology
>derives it from "look" with an arbitrary final element.

arbitrary?  I always assumed that (as Victor suggests above) it
derived from a childhood reanalysis of "look at" as a simple
transitive whence an intransitive, both transmitted across speakers
and repeatedly reinvented as a nonce form, i.e.

"Look at that!" > "Lookit that!"  > "Lookit" as a simple intransitive.

It's not just "a phonetic spelling", but an actual reanalysis.


>  there are
>cites from 1917 (Dialect Notes) through 1972.
>i suspect that people with "lookit" also have plain "look" for this
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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