Date: Fri, 4 Oct 1996 09:15:46 -0400

From: "Dennis R. Preston" preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU

Subject: Re: playdate clarification


Is the last line of your message something you would say (or only write in

a 'quick' message)? I do not have 'drop off' as an object-deleting verb. I

find this object deletion (and origin) especially interesting from a

generational point of view. For example (in the opposite direction), I

have the verb 'babysit' only in the 'intrasitive' (obviously, historically,

since it already incorporated the object), but nearly everyone younger than

me (a large percentage of the population) has such (for me *-ed) strings as

'he came over to babysit us,' etc... (where I would need prepositional

support). (My classification, in the particular case, is so strong that I

first quickly read this message to mean that the parent had 'gone to sleep'

until some pragmatic urge led me to realize that it would be hard to 'go

back home' - especially in a car - in that state.)

Does anyone know of any surveys (of authentic or experimental usage) on

object presence and/or deletion?

Dennis (who always has to drop something off)

PS: Maybe the object deletion in this particular case is a response to the

difficulty in finding a suitable pronoun. Since the referent is 'child,'

there is both the gender problem and the apparently-offensive-to-parents

'it.' (Not to mention the apparently-offensive-to-prescriptivists 'them.')

' ... expected to drop him/her [him or her] off ... '

' ... expected to drop it off ... '

' ... expected to drop them off ... '

Dale wrote,

The way playdate is being used here in Princeton now is somewhat different

than the way some on the list are using it. It does not involve the parents,

and the age I'm involved with is 1st and 2nd grade, not preschool. "Let's

arrange a playdate" means "can your child come over and play with mine" and

the parent would be expected to drop off and go back home.

Dale Coye

Princeton, NJ

Dennis R. Preston

Department of Linguistics and Languages

Michigan State University

East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA


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