Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Sun Jul 14 20:51:10 UTC 2013

On Jul 12, 2013, at 5:16 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Fri, Jul 12, 2013 at 5:44 PM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at ix.netcom.com>wrote:
>> This looks grammatical and within normal usage to me. Does the Onion not =
>> normally use profanity?
> This really just an in-joke based on posts
> from back in the day. When I was at the Army Language School in 1960, I
> once rhetorically asked my classmates, all of whom were white, whether they
> had heard how the first sergeant had "fucked over" another classmate. My
> hearers freaked, never having heard the expression, "to fuck over NP,"
> before. Yet, this phrase falleth so trippingly from the tongue of black
> speakers - I've been familiar with it since WWII - that *I* freaked, in
> turn, to discover the extent of Jim Crow, that a phrase as common as "cool"
> among blacks wasn't even comprehensible by whites. Ca. forty years later, I
> posted the anecdote to this listserv and white people were *still*
> unfamiliar with the phrase, though "to fuck NP over" *was* familiar and the
> semantics, being the same, were no mystery. Some suggested that "fuck NP
> over" was a modification of "fuck over NP," but, IMO, you have to be
> familiar something in order to modify it and nobody but me was familiar
> with "fuck over NP."
> So, the facetious point is that white speakers have finally gotten it right.

The Onion has "X gets fucked over" which seems perfectly normal.

When X is a pronoun, "fuck X over" seems slightly preferable, and when X is a noun, "fuck over X" seems preferable. I believe there are two types of verb + preposition idioms, and this is one of those two types.

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

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

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