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#75618 - 07/09/02 02:19 PM write me call me
dodyskin Offline

Registered: 04/24/02
Posts: 475
Loc: manchester uk
Okay, I'm sure you all know this one but I am sadly ignorant. Why do Americans say write me instead of write to me? Why do the English say ring/phone me instead of phone to me (sounds weird but surely it is the logical expression). What is going on? This one has been driving me mad ( or possibly just madder ) for ages.

#75619 - 07/09/02 08:12 PM Re: write me call me
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear dodyskin: Ellipsis is one of my favorie sins. I leave many of the little obvious words out.
Americans do not have a monopoly on it. Brits just use a slightly different set. I'll bet you
do it too, and just haven't noticed it.

#75620 - 07/09/02 08:36 PM Re: write me call me
inselpeter Offline

Registered: 03/14/01
Posts: 2379
Loc: New York City
or is this a residual dative?

#75621 - 07/09/02 08:57 PM Re: write me call me
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear IP: I never heard of residual dative before. Dodyskin's examples do indeed appear to fit the

(dītv) (KEY) [Lat.,=giving], in Latin grammar, the case typically used to refer to an indirect object,
i.e., a secondary recipient of an action. For example, him in I gave him a book is translated in Latin
by a dative case. The Latin dative also has other uses; and the cases called dative in other languages
correspond in their grammatical function only in part to that of the Latin. The residual dative case in
English was treated in the early work of Noam Chomsky.

However, ellipsis is quite common. Many times I find myself editing them out of posts. I had a
terrible tempered Teutonic taskmaster who spoke semi-broken English give me a very
severe jobation about it.

#75622 - 07/09/02 10:22 PM Re: write me call me
Bobyoungbalt Offline

Registered: 11/22/00
Posts: 1289
Well, yes, Bill, you are correct and IP is somewhat correct. I've never heard of a residual dative, although it's obvious what he means. There is no dative case in modern English. I would call this construction an indirect object, which my old English grammar teachers did learn us about back in the Middle Ages (1950's).

The most common usage of this is in a construction like, "Give me the book" where 'me' is an indirect object and 'book' is a direct object. (In German or Anglo Saxon, Latin, Greek or other declined languages, 'me' would be in the dative and 'book' in the accusative case.)

#75623 - 07/10/02 07:00 AM Re: write me call me
inselpeter Offline

Registered: 03/14/01
Posts: 2379
Loc: New York City
Well, *I've* heard a residual dative before, but not "residual dative." Just trying to be brief--and now, I'm defeated.

#75624 - 07/10/02 07:20 AM Re: write me call me
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
Brits just use a slightly different set.

You're absolutely wri~, er, right Bill. We would say (by means of non-logical contrast) something like "write me a letter or fax me the results", yet I would always write to my lover. The euphony of accepted usage is such a conditioned response, I think!

#75625 - 07/10/02 08:04 AM Re: write me call me
FishonaBike Offline

Registered: 10/11/00
Posts: 1346
Loc: Sussex, England
We would say something like "write me a letter or fax me the results"

Hang on, now I'm confused. Are you suggesting that the correct constructions would be "write to me a letter or fax to me the results", mav?

Shorely not!

Isn't this just about transitive and intransitive usage of verbs that can swing both ways?

#75626 - 07/10/02 08:20 AM Re: write me call me
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11613
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Well, I would never say, "Phone to me", that's for sure; "phone me", sometimes, but more often, "call me". I do more often say, "Write to me", but if I'm in a hurry for some reason, I'll say, "write me".

I guess for both, it's one of those instances where the preposition (in this case "to", a direction-giving preposition) is implied. Here's a quote from the Interlink Language Center: Prepositional phrases are like idioms and are best learned through listening to and reading as much as possible. You know how, especially when speaking/writing casually, you'll say, for example, "Got a minute?" The implied subject of that interrogative is "you": properly, it would read, "Do you have a minute?" The same principle goes for phone me, I reckon.

Most of the time, I write to someone, but sometimes, lovely maverick, I'll write you.

#75627 - 07/10/02 11:11 PM Re: write me call me
modestgoddess Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/18/02
Posts: 833
Loc: Eastern Ontario, Canada
Are you suggesting that the correct constructions would be "write to me a letter or fax to me the results"

Darling Fishie, dinna make it harder than it has to be! the "correct" constructions, if they include "to," would read/speak thusly:

write a letter to me
fax the results to me

They get bollixed around when people leave out the "to" - so perhaps both forms are correct.

Jackie, how nice to see you here again! What you said, above, reminded me of another elision: back in high school, a group of us were deciding where to go for lunch, I think it was - someone must've said, "McDonald's," because I said, "Don't let's," and someone else said, to me, "Don't say, 'Don't let's'! It's wrong!" Now, I had heard "don't let's" used by my (British) parents, who were quite well-educated, so I believed I was correct, but I was less assertive in them days....The teacher who overheard us leaped in, though, and said, "There's nothing wrong with 'Don't let's' - it's a contraction of 'Do not let us'."

So I guess, a story about contraction, rather than elision....

Let us go in peace to love and serve the board.

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