The far reaches of GoToGo

From Laura Staum Casasanto this morning:

Here is a sentence taken straight from an email about encouraging students to fill out course evaluations at Stony Brook:

[(1)] Did you know? Students can complete their evaluations on their mobile devices, and some instructors have found success with taking the first 10 minutes of class and ask their students to do the evaluations.

Wow, she said, and I concur. This is formally like classic GoToGo, but deviating from central examples in two respects. And it’s the second such example Laura has found.

Background on GoToGo. Still the place to start with is a 2004 Stanford qualifying paper by Laura Staum (as she was then), available on my website. Then the most extensive discussion in blogs is my 2006 Language Log posting “Sprinkled under the radar”. From this:

Back in March, Joel Wallenberg e-mailed me a stunning antedating of the GoToGo construction — as in [(2)] “She’s going to San Francisco and talk on firewalls” ‘She’s going to go to San Francisco and talk on firewalls’, with the go of prospective be going to and motional go (in the GoAndVP construction) telescoped into a single word going — from the 1920s back to 1864.  Chris Waigl then supplied examples from early in the 20th century.  So it looks like GoToGo has been around for quite some time, but without attracting attention or eliciting comment, until Charles Hockett noted “the recent colloquial pattern I’m going home and eat” in his 1958 textbook (p. 428).  It lasted a century or so completely under the radar, and (so far as I can tell) got only this one blip until close to the end of the 20th century, when David Denison (and later Laura Staum and I) began studying it.

In a later posting, “HaveToHave”, I noted an extension, to examples like [(3)] “We have a lot of earth to move and maintain structural integrity” and remarked on the status of GoToGo examples like (2) (an actually attested example; I was in fact the speaker):

for a fair number of speakers (including me), GoToGo is simply a variant construction in their English (it’s non-standard, but for these speakers it’s not an inadvertent error).

(Other speakers reject examples like (2) out of hand.)

The precedent for (1). From Laura back on 9/14/07, e-mail about “amazing gotogo”:

This was so good I almost wasn’t sure it was one. Comes from a flyer that a local realtor left on our doorstep:

[(4)] If you are interested in buying or selling and save lots of money… I’d love the opportunity to make your dreams come true!

The next day, from me (slightly edited):

Wow.  *Way* far off  the canonical examples. Vprp and Vbse, with the first verb [buying or selling] not a verb of motion [as in (2)] and with the Vprp nominal [it’s the object of the P in] rather than verbal (progressive) [as it is in (2)].

Now back to the crucial part of (1):

some instructors have found success with taking the first 10 minutes of class and ask their students to do the evaluations

Again, Vprp and Vbse, with the first verb (taking) not a verb of motion and with the Vprp nominal (it’s the object of the P with) rather than verbal (progressive).

One example could be a fluke (or an inadvertent error). So could two, but then again we might be seeing a trend. The important question is whether there are people who find things like (1) and (4) — instances of what we might call NomGoToGo, for “nominal GoToGo” — (relatively) unremarkable, the way some people treat examples of canonical GoToGo, like (2). I’m not such a person; (2) is fine for me, but (1) and (4) are way over the line. So my judgments are irrelevant; other speakers might have a system different from mine. What’s out there?


2 Responses to “The far reaches of GoToGo”

  1. the ridger Says:

    I reject (3) and (4) – and (1) of course – (3) isn’t something I would probably notice if I heard it, but I’d assume it was an error if I did. The others don’t work at all. Is it supposed to be [professors [have found success in taking…] and [ask students]]? Because that’s all I can figure out, and I can’t use “and” to get that kind of conjunction.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      I didn’t intend to invite people to supply their judgments. NomGoToGo is surely acceptable only to some small number of speakers, so rejecting (1) and (4) isn’t news, or particularly interesting; accepting (1) and (4) and similar things is the interesting case.

      The easy way out of “professors have found success in taking … and ask students” is the parallel coordination “in taking … and asking students”.

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