"You want punched out?"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed May 25 19:04:52 UTC 2011

Thanks, Matt. I've just posted about this on Language Log, citing your
suggested readings at the end.


On Wed, May 25, 2011 at 2:50 PM, Gordon, Matthew J.
<GordonMJ at missouri.edu> wrote:
> Discussion of American dialects on ADS-L? The end times are nigh!
> The 'want + past part." is normally treated as one of the features of Midland grammar
> along with "need + past part." and positive anymore. In addition to the AS article Ben
> found, there's a survey of work in Murray and Simon's chapter in the collection they
> edited _Language Variation and Change in the American Midland_ (2006, J. Benjamins).
> Erica Benson discusses the probably related grammatical construction of 'want + prep.
> adverb' (e.g. we want off) in a Journal of English Linguistics piece from 2009. This
> usage is reported to be more acceptable in the northern dialect region.
> -Matt Gordon
> ________________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Ben Zimmer [bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU]
> Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 1:06 PM
> Subject: Re: "You want punched out?"
> 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):
> http://www.jstor.org/stable/455576
> 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.
> --bgz
> 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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