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Gone missing in the USA
Posted: 20 January 2009 06:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Precisely the point.

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Posted: 21 January 2009 01:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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The distinguishing words from the OED quote are “To pass into a certain condition”.  “Gone fishing” implies completion of the action of having gone somewhere and started fishing, “gone walking” implies continuity of the state, not passing into the state of walking.

This will keep us in posts for days.  Mark my words.

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Posted: 21 January 2009 09:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Well, as is pointed out in that Language Log post you cited earlier (which is by Mark Liberman, not Geoff Pullum):

Go fishing involves a different sense of go: transitive sense 3 “to engage in” in the American Heritage Dictionary’s entry, rather than intransitive sense 10.b. “to come to be in a certain condition”. And fishing in go fishing is probably not a traditional gerund at all, since it can’t be replaced by a noun (in contrast to “I regret destroying it” vs. “I regret its destruction").

This sense is covered rather poorly in the OED2, and it doesn’t look like that part of the entry has been revised since the first edition:

32. Instead of, or in addition to, the place of destination, the purpose or motive of going is often indicated. This may be expressed in various ways:…
e. by the vbl. n. governed by a (= on; in mod. use frequently omitted); also by ordinary ns. denoting an action, governed by †in, on, rarely upon. go a begging (see BEGGING vbl. n. 2b).
[Selected quotes:] 1855 MACAULAY Hist. Eng. xxi. IV. 665 The King was certainly going a hunting. 1888 F. WARDEN Witch of Hills I. iv. 76, I said that I was going boar-hunting.

That’s the only quote showing the construction without a or on before the gerund, and none of the quotes are 20th century (which is why I say this part of the entry is obviously ripe for updating).

I think bayard may be right in suggesting that the reason “go missing” bothers people is that they try to parse it like “go hunting” rather than “go crazy”, but I agree with Liberman that parsing it that way and treating “missing” as a noun/gerund is “all wet.”

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Posted: 21 January 2009 02:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Go fishing involves a different sense of go: transitive sense 3 “to engage in” in the American Heritage Dictionary’s entry, rather than intransitive sense 10.b. “to come to be in a certain condition”.

But if “go” is to be treated as a transitive verb, why can’t “fishing” be the object, ie a gerund?

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Posted: 21 January 2009 03:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Well, Liberman gives his reason in the quote; I see his point but I’m not taking sides. Against him one could could make the historical argument that the current form derives from earlier forms in which the -ing word was the object of a preposition, thus a noun, thus a gerund. For example (drawing from the OED citations at 32e) go an-hunting > go a hunting > go hunting.  That’s not totally compelling and this illustrates the point that English as she is spoke doesn’t always fit well into the categories of traditional grammar.

And there’s also your argument that the objects of transitive verbs are nouns (or their functional equivalent), so if go is transitive, fishing is the object, and thus a noun/gerund.  I’m not disagreeing, although again I do allow for the possibility that traditional grammatical categories don’t fit this phrase perfectly.

But my argument, which I hope I’ve made clear, is that “go missing” is a different construction using a different sense of go, in which go is intransitive and missing is an adjective (or at least, much more like an adjective than a noun).

[ Edited: 21 January 2009 07:47 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 21 January 2009 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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And with that I tend to agree.

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Posted: 21 January 2009 05:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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I agree that go missing is not the same construction seen in go walking or go fishing, and that missing here is acting as an adjective.

But you know, I am not completely buying AHD’s “Go fishing involves a different sense of go: transitive sense 3 “to engage in” “…

It seems a bit forced to say that there is a construction in which go is a transitive verb, but the object has to be a gerund. To me it _feels_ like a phrase involving two verbs. To me, “He’s gone fishing” means more than “He’s engaging in fishing.” It means he has gone, and he is fishing. You have to depart, then do verb 2.

I mean the construction is only used when someone has _gone_ in some sense. If Bruce is standing right next to me, engaged in baking, and someone on the phone asks me what Bruce is up to, I’m not going to say “He’s gone baking”.

It’s a bit akin (not completely analogous) to “Go jump in the lake!”, “Go fly a kite!”. I’m telling you to do to things: get the hell out of here, and then do (2nd verb).

I realise this isn’t a very solid case, but it’s the vibe, man.

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Posted: 22 January 2009 02:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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If you can’t find something, you might say “it’s gone” or “it’s missing” or “it’s gone missing”, so the latter could be construed as emphasis by repetition. OTOH it has occurred to me that “it’s gone missing” suggestion some volition on the part of the object, which smacks of resistentialism.

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Posted: 22 January 2009 06:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Everyone who disagrees with me suffers from this.

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Posted: 22 January 2009 10:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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NB that from early on the phrase was applied to ships and people, which can be gone without having “gone missing”.  I don’t think the phrase is tautological or redundant, not even an example of redundancy for emphasis.  It indicates not just absence but unexpected, unexplained absence.

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Posted: 22 January 2009 04:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Not all of those who disagree with you are inanimate.

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Posted: 23 January 2009 01:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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sighs wearily

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Posted: 23 January 2009 09:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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I spent an extended time in the U.K. in 1991 and 1992 and heard the term regularly.  I had never heard it in the U.S. before then, but hear it used all the time, now. I find it delightful and it rolls so easily off the tongue, that I use it often in day-to-day speech.  (The only way I ever heard it used across the pond was “ something lost”, as in “My pen’s gone missing.”

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