Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Apr 12 18:17:25 UTC 2009

At 9:12 AM -0700 4/12/09, Arnold Zwicky wrote:
>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 didn't say intransitive *verb* ;-)

Actually, though, I did have one additional argument for the
intermediate stage of the above reanalysis.  Usually the "personal
dative" construction we've discussed here in the past and that I've
since written a paper about requires a transitive verb appearing with
a quantified direct object as well as the non-argument "dative"
co-indexing the subject ("She needs her a new pickup truck", "I love
me some him"), but there's one attested outlier which is so
noticeable that it was appropriated as the title of the 1995 paper on
the construction:

Sroda, Mary Sue & Margaret Mishoe. 1995.  "I jus like to look at me
some goats":  Dialectal pronominals in Southern English.  Paper
presented at NWAV 24 conference,

If the "look at" here is a transitive verb "lookit" rather than a
verb + preposition, it more naturally conforms to the general pattern.

>  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

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

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