Monday, March 05, 2012

Verb + with

It's a known pattern in American English, often identified with the Upper Midwest but certainly found far and wide beyond it, that verbs of motion (like go, come, ride) can occur with with as what many would regard as a verbal particle. In other words, you get sentences like this:
We're going to the store. Wanna come with?
How far this pattern extends is something that folks here in Wisconsin have been wondering about. For instance, speakers give different reactions to something like this:
I'm calling from the park.
Oh, are the kids with?
This weekend, the missus and me heard a native Wisconsinite use something I hadn't heard before, namely:
Just a father taking a child on a trip and the mother not with.
I've only talked to one native speaker of Upper Midwestern English about this, and their response was 'I don't think I can get that.'

So, folks, is that grammatical for you or not?


Jonathon said...

I think the first example sounds fine, but the second and third are ungrammatical to me.

Alex Rudnick said...

I can say the first one too, and do, fairly often. "Want to come with?"

The second and third ones, I wouldn't produce.

(native English speaker, from Florida)

Chris said...

I wonder if this somehow borrowed from German? "Mit" is used very similarly:
Kommst du mit? (Are you coming along ("with")?)
Bring mir was mit. (Bring me something back ("with")).
Sie werden wohl mit dabei sein. (They'll probably be "with" there.)

Anonymous said...

First one I say all the time. Second one I would tell my linguist friends about. Third one I wouldn't say, but wouldn't notice. I would say "Just a father taking a child on a trip and not (taking) the mother with." But, then again, I am from Wisconsin.

Mr. Verb said...

Thanks for the responses.

@Chris: Yes, this is likely connected to the pattern in the Germanic languages of having such verb-particle constructions. In Wisconsin, German would have played a role, but there were lots of Norwegians, Dutch and other speakers with this in their languages and it's really just an extension of an extant pattern of verb particles patterns, a really specific one.

The Audiovisualist said...
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The Audiovisualist said...
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The Audiovisualist said...

I'm from west-central Wisconsin, and I think it's more common in north-eastern Wisconsin, where I live now. That would argue for the German hypothesis. (It seems to me it's concentrated in Southern Door and Eastern Brown County, but that may be a coincidence of the people I happen to know)

Joe said...

This is a good question for further research. I know that there's work on this going on at UW-Eau Claire. There's also a nice dissertation on the topic:

Spartz, John M. 2008. Do you want to come with?: A cross-dialectal, multi-field, variationist investigation of with as particle selected by motion verbs in the Minnesota dialect of English. Doctoral dissertation, Purdue University.

My sense is that the simple 'come with' is pretty widespread across Wisconsin, but that things that more directly reflect German patterns ('come here once', for instance) ARE more robust in eastern Wisconsin, where German immigrant was heaviest.

Anonymous said...

Originally from the Twin Cities and the first one sounds completely normal and I'm sure I've used lots of times. The second two both sound wrong to me.

The Ridger, FCD said...

I don't live in Wisconsin, but "come with" is the only one that works for me.

Ellen K. said...

I'm not from the Upper Midwest at all (though I grew up near St. Louis, with parents from Chicago), and I find all 3 unremarkable.

Rosina Lippi Green said...

At first it seemed off to me, but I said it aloud a couple times, and with a certain intonation, it works. But it feels like a very old construction to me. Something I might have heard my great aunts (Illinois near the Wisconsin border) say.

The usual way I hear (and use) this, Chicagoan born and bred as I am, is 'If you're going, I'm coming with.' And my understanding has always been that it's an echo of the German construction, following from the large numbers of German settlers in the Midwest.

And by the way -- only vaguely related -- while I was in northern Iowa a couple weeks ago I heard 'uff da' more than once.

Rosina Lippi Green said...

Clarification: The first construction is absolutely normal for me. The second is a question mark. The third I at first rejected....

Matthew Fisher said...

Although I haven't looked at speech from Wisconsin, I do have to agree with some of the other comments that talk about this being a Germanic construction. You see this a lot in German, for example:

Ich bringe was mit. (lit. I bring something with)

I would judge these sentences as grammatical, but I think the tendency to disagree comes from a fear of ending sentences with prepositions reinforced by prescriptive grammarians.