Data points: P~Ø 5/5/11

On this morning’s traffic report on KQED:

If you’re traveling Sacramento, …

conveying ‘if you’re traveling in/through Sacramento’, but with transitive travel — “transitivizing P-drop”, as discussed most recently on this blog here, with reference to a much racier example.

In a more extended discussion of P~Ø alternations in the complements of verbs (on my website here), I list many such pairs, observing that:

So far as I can tell, the variants in each pair almost always differ semantically or pragmatically or both, though this difference is often subtle (cf. piss (on) oneself), so that in many contexts the difference is not especially salient.

and noting that there seems to be a trend towards transitivization, as in the Sacramento example, where the direct object construction is not the usual one (so that it struck me as a bit odd).

The history of the matter is more complex. OED2 has intransitive travel ‘make a journey’ from c1290 on, and the transitive travel that’s relevant here —

trans. (or with advb. accus.). To journey through (a country, district, space, etc.); to pass over, traverse (a road, etc.); to follow (a course or path).

from 1303 on, so both uses have been around for a very long time. However, the cites for this transitive travel mostly have travel a journey or travel a path, road, or circuit (to which we can add googleable examples with street, road, or highway names, like travel Melrose Avenue, where the prepositional alternative has on rather than in or through) — with only two instances of travel with an object denoting a place or area: travel the island of Crete, travel all nations (spelling modernized).

In fact, examples of the latter sort abound in modern usage, but with names of districts, countries, continents, and large geographical areas: traveling the South, Europe, France, East Asia, etc. And in these cases, there is, or can be, a subtle semantic difference between the direct and oblique constructions, with the direct construction implicating something more than mere traveling, like systematic touring.

However, searching for travel + city name pulls up lots of irrelevancies, some examples of travel X to Y ‘travel from city X to city Y’ (on this, see below), and no examples that I’ve been able to find that are parallel to the Sacramento example. There probably are some out there, but they seem to be very rare; it looks like the extension of transitive travel to city names is recent and far from widespread.

[On travel X to Y with city names, in “we are traveling Sacramento to Long Beach”, “traveled Chicago to New York”, and the like: this looks like a separate case of transitivizing P-drop, akin to the much-proscribed depart and arrive cases (“the plane departed San Francisco on time, but we didn’t arrive Los Angeles until four hours later”).]

One Response to “Data points: P~Ø 5/5/11”

  1. Rick Sprague Says:

    I wonder if travel is picking up a new syntactic frame from its semantic neighbors visit and tour. We’ll have to keep an eye out for more examples.

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