What it means to me to have a Blog containing a blog in which I blog about stuff (like 'Go [[to ]the ]Prom')

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/10/28 12:51 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2007/10/28/5742142.aspx

I might be a bit of a closet prescriptivist.

Which I think sucks, given how much I ridicule the practice, especially when I think back to instructors and teachers who would do it while treating the issues as if they were natural law, or at the very least crimes against grammar.

But I watched myself fighting the tendency to call a blog post a "blog" since in my mind the blog is the whole sheaf of them.

And I watched myself shudder to use the word as a verb even as I enjoyed wearing a shirt that did it.

But the force of repetitive usage has worn me down, and finally I'll accept these things. Which were never mine to accept or deny in the first place....

It still sounds "wrong" to me, even when I do it myself. Silly, but there it is.

So I was thinking about this and I realized the first time I noticed the phenomenon....

To me, one would talk about going to the prom. Like you would tell people "Sheila and I are going to the prom" and so forth.

Many other people would say "we're going to prom".Which seemed incorrect since the vast majority of people who say it have only one event within their grasp and therefore the might be more appropriate. But I could live with that, barely.

But then there were those other people, the ones who would say Let's go prom or somesuch. No the. And no to.

How was that even possible?

It was like fingernails on the chalkboard to me, which was unfortunate since I was dating someone in high school who said it that way, and dates go so much better when they don't involve fingernails on the chalkboard.

Believe me. :-)

This one I never really got used to, though I found it is a regional thing and obviously once high school was over I did not have to hear it ever again (though two years and associations across five different high schools meant I had to hear the phrase and its variants a lot back then).

This is not like Mark Liberman's Go X, exactly. But maybe there are similar forces at work in my Go X where x=Noun or maybe with "Go [[to]the ]X" too. I'm going to have to wade in here at some point....

I am self aware enough to realize that if my notions of linguistic aptitude were really anything beyond notions that I would be more accepting of these natural variations and changes that are a pretty fundamental part of language.

I'm even stubborn enough to want to go learn enough to cure me of this rampant provincialism and let's face it linguistic snobbery from someone who knows so little about it. The main thing stopping me from just enrolling at the UW is the fact that given the schedules for available classes there is no way to do it and also have a full time job. And there is a lot about my full time job that I love enough to be unwilling to shed it for the sake of shedding a language fetish. :-)


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# Vindalou on 28 Oct 2007 11:19 PM:

I lived for many years in a location where everyone said things like "she is in hospital". The lack of the word "the" in the variety of circumstances where it was routinely lacking was intensely upsetting. (not as bad as orientate instead of orient, but that is another story).

However, consider that mostly we say "in jail" - nobody ever uses a "the" in that context.

So it leads me to consider that sometimes the lack of an article or two may say volumes about the noun - perhaps there is an implied capitalization that reflects a state of being rather than just a generic location. And certainly being in either a jail or a hospital is a rather more an experience than a place. In that context - perhaps the lack of article before "prom" is correct.

And heck - take the class. Go to work full time and to school full time. You may only go through life once - make the most of it. =)

# Centaur on 29 Oct 2007 2:39 AM:

The “go X” pattern, where X is a noun, might be an overgeneralization* of the common “go home” expression.

* http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/overgeneralization.html

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