Disappeared as transitive

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Mar 18 14:18:13 UTC 2013

 Whoopee!! (That means, "Yee-hah!") Here's the passage, from the end of ch.

Nurse Duckett...had urgent news about Dunbar.

"They're going to disappear him," she said.

Yossarian squinted at her uncomprehendingly."They're what?" he asked in
surprise, and laughed uneasily. "What does that mean?"

"I don't know. I heard them talking behind a door."


"I don't know. I couldn't see them. I just heard them say they were going
to disappear Dunbar."

"Why are they going to disappear him?

"I don't know."

"It doesn't make sense. It isn't even good grammar. What the hell does it
mean when they disappear somebody?"

"I don't know."


On Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 9:22 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>wrote:

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> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Disappeared as transitive
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Mar 18, 2013, at 2:38 AM, Benjamin Torbert wrote:
> > We use disappear as transitive all the time in my family to
> >
> > a) Express getting some crap out of my mother's house that she doesn't
> know
> > about the disappearance of
> >
> > or
> >
> > b) Hiding some potentially negative influence on my 3yo son.  Such as
> > refined flour or refined sugar.  "I disappeared the lillipops."
> >
> > Whether we borrowed this usage from Argentina, I'm not sure.  Sounds
> > plausible.
> >
> We may have.  My learning trajectory was what had been described earlier
> by Jon, Ben, et al.:  first from Catch-22, where "disappear" not only
> occurs but led to a whole riff (IIRC, Yossarian objected to the information
> that one of his soldiers or officers had been disappeared by protesting
> that "disappear" isn't a transitive verb), and then from translations from
> the Argentinian dirty war, referencing "los disparecidos".  It's also a
> very plausible invention in child English; between 3 and 5 there's a lot of
> extension of semi-productive verbal morphology, from un-verbs ("Daddy,
> uninside-out my pjs!" from one of my own) and causatives in particular
> ("sing her the song" = 'make her/get her to sing the song").
>  "Disappearing" the lollipops would be a natural formation by, or
> presumably to or about, children of this age.
> LH
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