Posted By: paulb "off of" - 06/29/00 11:57 AM
I'm intrigued by the use of the linked words "off of" (where the second word is redundant) which I come across in American/Canadian books and speech now and again. I came across it again in a book I was reading in bed but I can't, of course, find the phrase again now. I've also noted in some newsgroup postings (not this newsgroup, I should add!) the word 'of' used instead of 'have' (eg "I should of said"). Does anyone know how these usages originated (although the second seems reasonably obvious)?

Posted By: jmh Re: "off of" - 06/29/00 02:38 PM
Estuary English must be responsible for "I should of", the boxer Frank Bruno is something of an expert at this one.

In Scotland it would be "I shoudda"

Posted By: tsuwm Re: "off of" - 06/29/00 03:38 PM
>In Scotland it would be "I shoudda"

that looks oddly Brooklynish...
"So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville! You was my brother, Charley, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn't have to take them dives for the short-end money.... I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it." -- Marlin Brando in "On the Waterfront"

Posted By: jmh Re: "off of" - 06/29/00 06:38 PM
Soundsa a little-a Italian. Then I suppose that Italian has fed into the Brooklyn accent.

The difference would come about with the expression: I knew I shoulda but I didna know I couldna.

Posted By: jmh Re: "off of" - 06/29/00 08:05 PM
Regarding the "off of" with the redundant "of", I have been thinking about this and have realised that I would be guilty of this in spoken English but not in written English.

I'm not sure if it relates to my Northern English roots or my spell in the South as I can't quite hear the accent I would use to say "Will you get off of that wall!".

It is most likely a Northern usage as we are very fond of redundancies.

We are also rather fond of asking questions in the negative "Don't you like this dress?" means "Do you like this dress? A particular favourite is to throw in as many negatives as possible as in "weren't you thinking of not going down to the shops then?" meaning "are you going shopping?".

Posted By: jackiemw Re: "off of" - 06/30/00 12:53 AM
FYI - the Dictionary of Contemporary Usage says off of is a very common redundancy, especially in speech; the of is simply unnecessary . . . careful speakers and writers avoid this duplication and simply use off. As for should of, could of, and would of, the same book calls this slovenly speech and a debasement of the language.

Posted By: Bingley have/of confusion - 06/30/00 05:20 AM
I wouldn't have called my speech slovenly, but I certainly pronounce the unstressed form of "have" after a modal verb and the unstressed form of "of" very similarly, and I suspect most people do. Try it yourself by saying these in ordinary speech, rather than with the artificially precise pronunciation my mother would call a telephone voice: I should have loved him more. and I dreamed of love. The "have" and "of" do sound very similar. If, however, you say You should have and What did you dream of?, the difference becomes more obvious.

Posted By: jmh Re: have/of confusion - 06/30/00 09:09 AM
I think it is definitely more Southern than Northern. In my accent "You should have" would come out as "You should av" but then I suppose it all depends on how you say "often".

Posted By: Jackie Re: "off of" - 06/30/00 10:53 AM
off of is very common here, too. Perhaps it is an
offshoot of 'out of'. I offen say, "get offa there".

Posted By: paulb Re: "off of" - 06/30/00 12:09 PM
Jackie: I can recall hearing 'off of' in American films, but I must admit I was surprised to see it used in a 'literary' novel (Barbara Hodgson: The sensualist). I found a second occurrence before I finished the book today:

"She wiped the port off of her nose with her sleeve." [No, you don't need to know the context!]

I also picked up the use of a redundant 'a' in:

"How did he get a hold of it?" [Again, don't worry about the context!]

The usages just seemed out of place to me. But I still enjoyed the book and recommend its quirkiness to readers.

Posted By: Jackie Re: "off of" - 06/30/00 01:13 PM
Well, your sneakified (speaking of made-up words!) little
comment about not needing to know the context certainly
piqued my curiosity, darn you! :-)

"a-hold", and such-like, are common speech in Kentucky. Can't say for the rest of the country, but I
suspect this is more common in the South, where people seem
bound and determined to hold on to history, for better or
for worse. Another one, esp. in rural areas, is a-feard.

Posted By: Bridget Re: "off of" - 06/30/00 11:08 PM
>> use of the linked words "off of" (where the second word is redundant) <<

Paulb I agree this seems to be of American/Canadian origin. It's one of my pet peeves, for no greater reason than that I find it ugly - after all, everyone understands it.

I've also come across it with the word 'outside', and I find it easier to guess at an origin here:

'The outside of the house is white.'
'Outside the house it is cold and miserable.' (Oh yes it is, in Sydney today )

Given that parts of speech are not taught / corrected, I can understand how many people would not distinguish 'outside' as a noun or a preposition, hence not know when 'of' is required.

Then maybe once 'outside of' is common you can extrapolate from that to 'off of'?

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