1 of 2
1
Gone missing in the USA
Posted: 15 January 2009 03:37 AM   [ Ignore ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1161
Joined  2007-02-14

I’ve always thought of ‘gone missing’ as a Rightpondian phrase, but we’re seeing it more and more in South Leftpondia.  How far back is it attested in the US?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 January 2009 08:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4656
Joined  2007-01-03

I quick search turned up a Usenet post from 1989 that I think is from the US (no way to tell for sure). This is really early for Usenet, meaning that the term may be considerably older in the US.

I suspect that early citations will parallel UK usage. There is always some bleed over of words and phrases--British writers in an American venue, American-born anglophiles using Briticisms, etc. You’d have to do a thorough statistical analysis of a corpus to figure out when it really started to be widely used.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 January 2009 08:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  236
Joined  2007-02-23

A Google News archive search turns finds “ ... Stiff Writer New England whalers used to call it “gone missing."… “ dated 1975. What does “Stiff Writer” mean? A misprint? And is the date reliable? “used to call it” means some time previous to the date of the writing? New England Whalers would have been largely gone long before 1975?

[ Edited: 15 January 2009 08:49 AM by droogie ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 January 2009 09:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2807
Joined  2007-01-31

This old thread started out as a discussion of the idiom but wound up being mostly about coffee and Scotch. (Perhaps relevant to “Stiff Writer”.)

Here’s another old thread in which it was briefly discussed.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 January 2009 01:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1161
Joined  2007-02-14

The reason I asked was I ran into it in a Tony Hillerman story, The Fallen Man, published in 1996.  He has it coming from an older woman who is a long time, probably life long, resident of a small Arizona or New Mexico town.  I believe he’s usually pretty good about getting details like this right, but who knows?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 January 2009 05:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
RankRank
Total Posts:  47
Joined  2008-03-07

This has always been one of my pet peeves. 

I truly don’t remember hearing this before the last 10 years or so, at least not in general US conversation.  I’m in the US my whole life. 

I’ll wager it’s a Britishism, but can’t tell when it started.  Someone such as Michael Quinion might have a beter handle on this.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 January 2009 06:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2807
Joined  2007-01-31

I don’t understand why this phrase annoys some people so.  People go mad, crazy, insane, or nuts, they go native, go wild, go bankrupt, go pale, go bad, go lame, and go broke.  Why shouldn’t they go missing?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 January 2009 06:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3026
Joined  2007-02-26

What Dr Techie said.

I’m reminded, though, of a banner that said, “Time to go Blair!”. Either a comma was omitted or the bannerista was advocating widespread Blairism.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 January 2009 06:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2807
Joined  2007-01-31

BTW, it’s not so recent.  Searching Googlebooks I came up with examples of “went missing” in both British and American books from the late 1800s. (Yes, I verified the dates.)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 January 2009 01:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1365
Joined  2007-01-29

"Gone missing” is so well-used here it sounds entirely natural usage to my UK ears, so I had to think hard about it, till I read Dr Techie’s question

People go mad, crazy, insane, or nuts, they go native, go wild, go bankrupt, go pale, go bad, go lame, and go broke.  Why shouldn’t they go missing?

and I think the answer is that because “miss” is a verb, and mad, crazy, insane etc are adjectives, the prescriptivist would argue that “is missing” is more acceptable and maybe “gone missing” is tautological.  I think it’s another case where usage dictates style.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 January 2009 02:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  590
Joined  2007-02-22

Perhaps “gone missing” irritates because it sounds as if it should be analogous with “gone walking, riding, hunting, fishing, shooting etc.”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 January 2009 07:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4656
Joined  2007-01-03

Technically, missing in this context is a gerund.

What makes it different from hunting, walking, fishing, etc. is that missing is a state, not an activity. Furthermore, it is descriptive of the state of mind/perspective of the speaker, rather than an activity of the subject.

You wouldn’t say “he is gone annoying.”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 January 2009 09:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  236
Joined  2007-02-23

I have long thought that “gone fishing” in casual or rural US usage could mean ‘missing’. Sort of a rural or small town AWOL.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 January 2009 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1365
Joined  2007-01-29

From Geoff Pullum’s Language Log:

Here at Language Log, we’re not constrained by the petty word count restrictions of a New York Times column, and so I can go into more detail in support of Safire’s point of view. As he explains, “one sense of to go is ‘’to pass from one state or place to another’”, and this is the sense that is involved in go missing as well as many other expressions. His analysis is not new, but it’s correct. The OED puts go missing under sense 44 of go:

44. To pass into a certain condition. Chiefly implying deterioration. a. With adj. complement: To become, get to be (in some condition). (Cf. COME 25a.) to go less: to be abated or diminished. Also with n. complement: to become, use, or adopt the characteristics of (something specified); to go all ____: see ALL C. 2c; to go bush: see BUSH n.1 9e; to go missing: to get lost; to go native: to turn to or relapse into savagery or heathenism; also transf. (cf. FANTI b); to go ____ on (someone): to adopt a particular mode of behaviour towards or affecting (that person); to go public: to become a public company.

Safire notes that go missing is “British English”, and supplies an earlier citation than the OED does. He quotes “a naval correspondent for The Times of London on Aug. 10, 1877, in a dispatch about the Turkish armies in the Balkans’’ as writing “I was obliged to return to Adrianople to get some supplies, as a box which should have reached me at Tirnova had gone missing.’’ The OED’s earliest citation is from 1944:

1944 E. BENNETT-BREMNER Front-Line Airline (1945) viii. 50 Qantas Empire Airways have been called upon to conduct searches for missing aircraft, and it was only natural, therefore, that being ‘Johnny-on-the-spot’ they should be asked to join in when aircraft went missing.

As the OED suggests, “go PREDICATIVE” often suggests that the predicative is a kind of deterioration: go bad, go ballistic, go bananas, go bankrupt, go blank, go cold, go crazy, go dead, go gray, go Hollywood, go lame, go mad, go native, go numb, go nuclear, go nuts, go sour, go vacant, go wrong.

edited link
[ Edited: 20 January 2009 11:07 AM by ElizaD ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 January 2009 11:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2807
Joined  2007-01-31
Dave Wilton - 20 January 2009 07:04 AM

Technically, missing in this context is a gerund.

That turns out not to be the case.  It would be a gerund if “missing” were acting as a noun, but it is not.  It’s a participial adjective.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 January 2009 04:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3026
Joined  2007-02-26
Dr. Techie - 20 January 2009 11:08 AM

It’s a participial adjective.

As an adjective it fits nicely into a set that includes mad, crazy, insane, nuts, native, wild, bankrupt, pale, bad, lame, and broke.

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 2
1
 
‹‹ Gazebo      Take the cake ››