Date: Fri, 7 Apr 1995 07:59:00 EDT
From: "Dennis.Preston" 22709MGR[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MSU.EDU
Subject: needs + present participle
In my expereiece, the farther you go south of the usual north versus south
midlands boundary, the less likly you are to hear need + past.part (e.g.,
needs washed). In my more recent Michigan experience, the division
between N. Midland and North concerning this feature seems more abrupt.
As a Louisville area speaker, I have all the others:
My clothes need to be washed.
My clothes need a (good) washing. (I don't like this as much without the
adjective; odd huh?)
My clothes need washing.
And I also confess to the variant:
My clothes need a-washing (which, blush, I first thought people were referring
to with the article citation. Just a little friendly a-prefixing y'all).
The first time I heard the need+past part. construction, I thought it was
It is interesting (at least to me) to note, by the way, that native speakers
of need+past part. grow up in complete ignorance of its limited distribution
(as, say, Appalachian speakers do not of a-prefixing). Since there are no
negative caricatures of the area which supports it (generally), the local
speakers believe they are speakers of the mythical General American English.
I had a helluva time once convincing a Findlay, Ohio resident that his use of
this construction was in the least unusual (but, then, he was a Slavic
linguist). Since he was something of a prescriptivist, it was all the more
horrible for him.
22709mgr[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]msu.edu
preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]pilot.msu.edu