"You want punched out?"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed May 25 18:06:22 UTC 2011

I see now that "want + V-en" is treated in depth by Thomas E. Murray
and Beth Lee Simon in "Want + Past Participle in American English"
(American Speech, Vol. 74, No. 2, Summer 1999, pp. 140-164):


Their evidence does suggest that it's limited to the North Midland
dialect region, so Davis apparently betrayed his Pittsburgh roots by
using the expression in the Buffalo area.


On Wed, May 25, 2011 at 11:59 AM, Ben Zimmer
<bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
> 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?"
> http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/05/tea-party-candidate-jack-davis-to-gop-tracker-you-want-punched-out-video.php
> 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:
> ---
> http://linguistlist.org/issues/2/2-885.html#3
> 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. [..]
> ---
> --bgz

Ben Zimmer

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

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