Date: Fri, 8 May 1998 18:40:49 -0400
From: Wendalyn Nichols
Subject: Re: Deleted "to"; 'em singular

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I also wonder if the "fall' versus "pass it around" isn't sociological? It
was frowned upon enough for us merely to be singing about beer as children
in the 1960's, let alone to sing about drinking it instead of letting the
bottles break.

Beverly Flanigan on 05/08/98 05:58:57 PM

Please respond to American Dialect Society

cc: (bcc: Wendalyn Nichols/Trade/RandomHouse)
Subject: Re: Deleted "to"; 'em singular

I wonder if the "99 bottles" variation isn't more generational than
regional? The responses on the list seemed to be age-graded, and my
polling of my students suggests the same: 20 students in my Dialects class
uniformly rejected my "If one of those bottles should happen to fall" in
favor of "Take one down, pass it around."

On 'to' deletion: I've heard prep. 'to' deleted in southern Ohio, but I'm
not aware of deleted infin. 'to', beyond the general ones noted by Ron.
"I'm gonna go store" would be an example of zero prep. 'to.' There could
be a very reduced 'to' in there, I suppose, as Mike Salovesh noted, but it
would actually be a reduced 'to the,' which is quite a lot to reduce.
Other examples?

At 12:57 PM 5/7/98 +0200, you wrote:
>Dear List,
>I note that the "99 bottles...take one down, pass around", and the "go
>with" and "come with" users turned out to have quite complex regional
>distribution in the States. What about the following features which I
>would have thought originally Black and/or Southern:
>1) Deletion of _to_ infinitive marker as in "I want you guys have a good
>2) The use of 'em for (h)im in unstressed position. (This question
>assumes that speakers generally have an opposition between schwa and lax
>/I/ in unstressed syllables).
>I went to see the Titanic movie recently, and noticed the present day
>characters at the beginning using the deleted "to". These speakers
>sounded more Midland than Southern.
>I also noticed the male lead, Leonardo di Caprio, regularly using the
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=B4em for (h)im feature, whereas the upper class heroine only used it
>occasionally, otherwise (h)im.
>My impression is that deleted "to" in non-southern speech implies
>extreme laid-back colloquial-ness - I've noticed it being used when
>giving orders, as if to soften their impact.
>I'd be glad if you could put me right on this, regarding usage,
>distribution, etc. Thanks! I know I can be wildly wrong - for instance=

>the other day I assumed "folding laundry" was a lexical item like
>"folding money".
>Post script: the film was great, in the full sense of the word. Most o=
>the time I wasn't even thinking about pronunciations!
>David Sutcliffe
>Universitat Pompeu Fabra
>Rambla 30-32