[Ads-l] The dagnabbit effect strikes again. (Or, when the personal [dative] is political.)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Jan 3 02:18:01 UTC 2019

Elizabeth Warren is now being mocked left and (mostly) right on social media for her aside during her announcement for the presidency:  “I’m gonna get me a beer”.
Cf. https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1080554654352793609
We’re back in John Kerry country again, when the *obviously* elitist Kerry was mocked for his own Personal Dative.  Here’s the (right-wing) Washington Times shortly after the event:

Mr. Kerry’s Ohio hunting adventure started last Saturday,when the senator,
campaign entourage in tow, went into a grocery store and asked the owner:
“Can I get me a hunting license here?” Even the phraseology sounded staged.
Mr. Kerry ordinarily doesn’t talk this way, and his language sounded
fake and patronizing— as if he was pretending to talk like someone from
rural Ohio.   [WT, October 23, 2004]

Kerry was subsequently savaged in numerous gleeful right-wing blogs and columns for his inauthentic modeling of “uneducated redneckese”, “hick” or “ignorant” speech, or
“dumbed-down grammar”. Commentators wondered rhetorically, “Is poor grammar something that amounts to reaching out to them-there dumb, gun-loving right-wing
rednecks?”  Kerry was widely portrayed at the time as having asked “Can I get me a huntin’ license here?” (and note the comment to this effect in Warner Todd Huston’s tweet in Twitterstorm), actual recordings of Kerry’s query at the time clearly confirm that he used the upper register velar nasal. In any case, two weeks later Kerry barely lost Ohio to George W. Bush and with it the election.  At least Warren is getting her PD out of the way early, for better or worse.

In a paper I wrote on PDs a while back (you can find the link in this Language Log post by Mark Liberman, http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1863), I cited the Kerry episode and, along the same lines, the criticism directed at Dan Fogelberg, the Midwestern singer-songwriter, for including this verse in his hit song “Auld Lang Syne” 

She said she’d married her an architect,
Who kept her warm and safe and dry,
She would have liked to say she loved the man,
But she didn’t like to lie. 

One blogger complained: "Did she really say 'I married me an architect?' Or is Fogelberg, who seems capable of standard usage, the kind of guy who would say, 'Dag nabbit, she
up ’n’ married her an architect’?"  (Still available at https://tinyurl.com/yczllsq3).  Whence “the dagnabbit effect”.  

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

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