Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1993 22:01:21 EST
From: Michael Montgomery N270053[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UNIVSCVM.BITNET
Subject: Re: some U.S. "Midland" regionalisms?
There is a great deal of evidence that "the car needs washed" is a
Scotch-Irish usage. Joan Hall has cited the SCOTTISH NATIONAL DICTIONARY;
other Scottish sources could be mentioned as well. As far as Ulster is
concerned, there are scattered references in the linguistic literature.
For example, Philip Robinson, in "The Scots Language in Seventeenth-
Century Ulster" (published in ULSTER FOLKLIFE Vol 35, 1989) refers to "
Modern Ulster-Scottish idioms such as 'the car needs washed' . . ."
(p. 95) and offers a possible derivation of the construction. In informal
elicitations in Northern Ireland I have found near universal acceptance of
As far as the progressive is concerned, Peter Trudgill once told me that
its use with 'want' and similar verbs becomes progressively more common in
Britain the farther one went north. Scattered comments in the literature
on both Scots and Hiberno-English attribute the pattern to a Gaelic
substratum. Trudgill made the same comment about contrac-
tion with subjects rather than with 'not' (He's not coming vs. He isn't
coming). The progressive 'wanting' and the 'he's not' contraction are
quite common in my native East Tennessee. They might would be interesting
to test in the Midwest, since their geographical distribution in Britain
suggests something of a Scotch-Irish influence.
Does anyone know of a quantitative study of either the progressive or
Michael Montgomery, Dept of English, U of South Carolina, Columbia SC 29208