Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Sun Apr 12 16:12:19 UTC 2009

On Apr 12, 2009, at 8:36 AM, Larry Horn wrote:

> At 8:23 AM -0700 4/12/09, Arnold Zwicky wrote:

>> 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.

i merely reported the OED's etymology, which i don't in fact find
plausible.  Victor's suggestion looks much more satisfying.

but i wouldn't classify "lookit!" as an intransitive verb.  i think it
has indeed been reanalyzed, but as an interjection (as both the OED
and NOAD2 say).


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

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