Have an X, have a Y

From Ann Burlingham on Facebook a little while back, with reference to a passage in “Marry the Man Today”, from Guys and Dolls (1950):

Sure, now I’ve got this earworm. Seems to me Arnold wrote an essay on this progression, and maybe the similar one from “Gypsy”, but perhaps it was in conversation. [In conversation, I think.]

The passage:

Marry the man today and train him subsequently

Carefully expose him to domestic life
And if he ever tries to stray from you
Have a pot roast
Have a headache
Have a baby
Have two!

A zeugmoid chain, with three different senses of have in successive VPs. The progression in Gypsy is considerably longer.

If we treat have a pot roast / have a headache / have a baby  as asyndetic coordination (coordination without an explicit coordinator), then the “reduced” variant would be have a pot roast, a headache, a baby — straightforward zeugma (with one occurrence of have, which must be understood in three ways at once). The actual passage has three occurrences of have, but the hearer is required to shift from one sense to another, which gives the progression the feel of zeugma.

Here are the lyrics — music and lyrics by Frank Loesser — in full:

[Miss Adelaide, Sarah Brown]

What are we crazy or something
At Wanamaker’s and Saks and Klein’s
A lesson I’ve been taught
You can’t get alterations on a dress you haven’t bought

At any vegetable market from Borneo to Nome
You mustn’t squeeze a melon till you get the melon home

You’ve simply got to gamble
You get no guarantee
Now doesn’t that kind of apply to you and I
You and me
Whatever
Why not?
Why not what?

Marry the man today.
Trouble though he may be
Much as he likes to play
Crazy and wild and free

Marry the man today
Rather than sigh in sorrow
Marry the man today
And change his ways tomorrow.

Marry the man today.
Marry the man today
Maybe he’s leaving town
Don’t let him get away
Hurry and track him down
Counterattack him and
Marry the man today
Give him the girlish laughter
Give him your hand today
And save the fist for after.

Slowly introduce him to the better things
Respectable, conservative, and clean
Readers Digest
Guy Lombardo
Rogers Peet
Golf!
Galoshes
Ovaltine!
But marry the man today
Handle it meek and gently
Marry the man today and train him subsequently

Carefully expose him to domestic life
And if he ever tries to stray from you
Have a pot roast.
Have a headache
Have a baby
have two!
Six
Nine!
STOP!
But marry the man today
Rather than sigh in sorrow
Marry the man today
And change his ways – change his ways – his ways
Tomorrow!

And from Gypsy (1959), lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, music by Jule Styne, “Mr. Goldstone, I Love You”:

Herbie:
Rose, this is Mr. Goldstone.

Momma Rose:
Have an eggroll, Mr. Goldstone.
Have a napkin, have a chopstick, have a chair.
Have a spare rib, Mr. Goldstone.
Any spare that I can spare I’ll be glad to share!

Have a dish, have a fork, have a fish, have a pork.
Put your feet up. Feel at home.
Have a smoke, have a Coke.
Would you like to hear a joke?
I’ll have June recite a poem!

Have a lychee, Mr. Goldstone.
Tell me any little thing that I can do.
Ginger peachy, Mr. Goldstone.
Have a kumquat, have two!
Everybody give a cheer.
Santa Claus is sitting here.
Mr. Goldstone I love you!

Have a Goldstone, Mr. Eggroll.
Tell me any little thing that I can do.
Have some fried rice, Mr. Soy Sauce.
Have a cookie, have a few!
What’s the matter, Mr. G?
Have another pot of tea.
Mr. Goldstone I love you!

Herbie:
There are good stones and bad stones
and curbstones and gladstones
and touchstones and such stones as them.

Rose:
There are big stones and small stones
and grind stones and gall stones,

All: but Goldstone is a gem!

There are milestones, there are mill stones.
There’s a cherry, there’s a yellow, there’s a blue.
But we don’t want any old stone,
only Goldstone will do!
Moon stones, sun stones.
We all scream for one stone.
Mr. Goldstone we love you!
Goldstone!

After the play on have in various senses, the song shifts to a play on X stone (mostly compound nouns, but also some Adj + N composites), with various relations between the head noun stone and X. More zeugmoids, as in the sequence curbstones … gladstones … touchstones … grind stones … gall stones … milestones … mill stones, and then the song breaks out in frank zeugma, with cherrystone (as in cherrystone clam), yellowstone (as in Yellowstone Park), and bluestone (a type of building stone) reduced to cherry … yellow … blue, with stone ellipted.

(In passing, we get a transposition in Have a Goldstone, Mr. Eggroll and an intrusion of a food name in Have some fried rice, Mr. Soy Sauce (suggesting just how rattled Rose is getting).)

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