"You want punched out?"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed May 25 15:59:54 UTC 2011

The much-watched special election in New York's 26th congressional
district (northeastern suburbs of Buffalo + western suburbs of
Rochester) had a dialectal wrinkle to it. A couple of weeks ago, Jack
Davis, the third-party spoiler running on the Tea Party line, was
confronted by the chief of staff of the Republican candidate, Jane
Corwin, outside a veteran's event. The video of the confrontation
included Jack Davis saying, "You want punched out?"


I presume this is related to the "needs washed" construction.
According to Davis's campaign bio <http://www.jackdavis.org/about/>,
his family moved from Pittsburgh to Buffalo when he was a child. I
know "needs washed" is common in the Pittsburgh dialect region, but I
wasn't sure about Buffalo. This Linguist List post suggests it's found
in Buffalo as well, at least among transplants from the Midland:

Date: Sun, 15 Dec 1991 23:08 EST
From: <BRANDM at ACFcluster.NYU.EDU>
Subject: Re: 2.866 Responses: Language & Culture, Washed, No way
I am an originally a native speaker of a "needs washed" dialect. Even though I
have lived in the NY and Boston areas since age 13, I never realized
the form was not used by those around me until someone commented on it.
Until age 13 I lived in the Akron area of Ohio. My parents are natives of the
Akron and Columbus areas.
The form has always been interesting to me both in terms of its origin and its
structure. In recent years I have often remarked on the frequency of its
occurence among speakers of the dialects that use it. Among them I have
encountered a native of Buffalo (which led me to theorize that such usage was
spread via Lake Erie), and a Scot from Glasgow. The native of Buffalo had
lived much of her childhood in West Virginia however. [..]


Ben Zimmer

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

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