Annals of "needs washed"

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Grammar Girl (aka Mignon Fogarty) has posted a podcast today about the "needs washed" regionalism, which is mostly associated with the North Midland dialect region of the U.S. Though her goal is to provide prescriptive advice about when it's appropriate to use the "need + V-en" construction, she has conducted some nice data collection from her readers and has also consulted such resources as the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project and relevant Language Log posts.

On its "needs washed" page, the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project (check it out if you haven't seen it already) provides a map with attestations of the "need + V-en" construction from scholarly surveys.

Fogarty asked her extensive readership if they had heard of "needs washed" and constructed her own map:

Fogarty notes that even though usage clusters in the North Midland region (with Pittsburgh as the "epicenter"), there are many outliers in places like southern Oregon and southern Idaho. We should be a bit careful with this kind of informal self-report survey, of course, since usage perceptions might be a bit skewed for various reasons. Neal Whitman pointed out on the American Dialect Society mailing list that a few commenters on the Grammar Girl Facebook page asked "Does 'needs washing' count?" — suggesting that many data points may in fact be false positives.

And speaking of misperceptions, discussion of the Grammar Girl survey on ADS-L led Jonathan Lighter (of Historical Dictionary of American Slang fame) to observe that President Obama, in his Labor Day speech, had said that much of America's infrastructure "needs rebuilt." Lighter wondered if this was "a Presidential first." I was curious about this, since it would indeed be unusual to hear the President utter "need + V-en" in a public speech. (It was a noteworthy moment last spring when Jack Davis, a Pittsburgh native running for Congress in upstate New York, threatened a staffer of one of his opponents with "You want punched out?")

It turns out Obama didn't in fact say "need(s) rebuilt," but it's easy to hear why it could have been perceived that way. Here is the speech, with the part in question coming at about 10:50:

Obama's line, as reflected in the official transcript, was actually:

We've got roads and bridges across this country that need rebuilding.

…but "rebuilding" might be better transcribed as "rebuildin'" or "rebuild'n." As elsewhere in the speech, Obama deploys so-called "g-dropping" (actually the substitution of coronal nasal [n] for velar nasal [ŋ] in the inflectional suffix -ing). Obama's g-dropping here accords with what Mark Liberman identified as "empathetic -in'," the use of dropped g's for the rhetorical effect of forming solidarity with the audience and "folksifying" the subject matter. In this particular instance, the final syllable is heavily reduced, sounding a bit like a syllabic [n] appended to the end of "rebuild." Thus it's not a stretch to hear the spoken word as "rebuilt."

The Wall Street Journal political reporter Naftali Bendavid evidently heard "rebuilt" as well, but in quoting Obama's speech he (or his editors) "corrected" the sentence, thus avoiding the non-standard "need + V-en" construction:

"We've got roads and bridges across this country that need to be rebuilt," Mr. Obama said.

So, despite the mishearings, this appears to be a false alarm — while g-dropping is an acceptable dialectal variation in folksy political talk, "need + V-en" may still be beyond the pale.



57 Comments

  1. Heather Revanna said,

    September 9, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

    I grew up near Pittsburgh and heard people complaining about this usage all the time – typically transplants to the area.
    Now I live in Denver and I hear native Coloradans using this construction regularly. No one corrects it, as I had witnessed in the burgh. The fact is, as far as I can tell, no one notices it. I hear it in casual conversations as well as on the local news, by anchors who I know are from here. I actually find it refreshing. The construction is clear and communicative and it's nice when it just communicates and is not dissected.

  2. Oliver Lawrence said,

    September 9, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

    I believe it is a popular Scottish colloquial form as well.

  3. Michael Friesner said,

    September 9, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

    For what it's worth, my students' map from a couple of years ago, using survey methodology (http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=212192735552470176868.000453ace87f402695a05&msa=0&ll=39.232253,-98.701172&spn=37.0663,76.816406) looks very similar, including an area around Washington State that could correspond to the WA-ID "needs washed" area on the other map…

  4. Coleman Glenn said,

    September 9, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

    I grew up in Philadelphia, with relatives in Pittsburgh, and this was one of the regionalisms that we'd often make fun of Pittsburghers for (along with "yinz" – although we knew perfectly well that they could just as easily mock our "wooder" and "youz"). I recently moved to northeastern BC – right near the BC / Alberta border – and I've heard this usage several times up here. The people I've heard it from have never lived in Pennsylvania as far as I know; they mostly come from Prussian Mennonite backgrounds, and their ancestors (just a few generations back) emigrated from Europe to Manitoba and other parts of the prairie provinces in Canada. I wonder if Language Log contributor Bill Poser has any insight on this, since he lives in northern BC himself.

  5. Mignon said,

    September 9, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

    Thanks, Ben. I wanted to post a disclaimer that the study obviously wasn't scientific and that some people probably misunderstood the question (and I need to include a key!), but I had technical problems and have been locked out of the site ever since the article went live. The "data set" is available on Facebook for anyone who wants to see it though.

  6. Pflaumbaum said,

    September 9, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

    If it's sufficiently on-topic, could someone shed any light on how come need(s) and a few other verbs before a gerund-participle seem to be able to make it passive? As in the car needs parking or (BrE?) that chicken wants plucking.

    Is it connected to the passival, discussed on here earlier this year?

  7. Ben C said,

    September 9, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

    I've definitely heard it in the Rocky Mountain West, by people who grew up there, but that was mostly by Utahns, who occasionally buck regional speech patterns. Not sure what that means, really.

  8. Tom Vinson said,

    September 9, 2011 @ 1:29 pm

    I heard my manager use "[some project...] needs done" just this morning in an online staff meeting. He grew up in Glasgow and is now based in Manchester (England, not New Hampshire).

  9. Cameron Majidi said,

    September 9, 2011 @ 1:40 pm

    I'd be curious as to how widespread this usage is in Canada. I associate it with the Pittsburgh area, but also with Scotland, and a large number of Scots settled in Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries. I've always assumed this phrase's survival in the south-west quadrant of Pennsylvania to be a relic of Scottish and Scots-Irish settlement in that region.

  10. Rose Eneri said,

    September 9, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

    I grew up in far NE Philadelphia and currently live west of Baltimore. Not only have I never heard this construction, I couldn't even understand it until I read the Grammar Girl article.

  11. Eric P Smith said,

    September 9, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

    @Oliver Lawrence, @Tom Vinson: Yes, I confirm that “This needs washed” is considered standard in Scotland (including Glasgow). Here in Scotland we can say equally “This needs washed”, “This needs washing”, and “I need this washed”. What we do not have is “I need this washing”, which comes across to us as English. (Remember that to a Scot, England is “somewhere else”.) This gives rise to jokes like, “How would you like running to the concert?”

  12. Neal Whitman said,

    September 9, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

    I blogged about "needs done" a couple of times. This post is a response to an LSA paper by Dan Brassil, disputing some of his claims about the construction, in particular that you don't get it with a by-agent phrase, and that it can't express episodic events. This other post is about a case of zeugma with need, a newsletter from school that mentioned "several forms that need your attention and returned during the first week of school."

  13. Ben said,

    September 9, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

    Regarding Jack Davis, it really sounds to me in that video like he was going to say "you want punched out, I'll show you punched out" but never said the second part. This does require someone to have used the words punched a short time before, I realize, but that video seems to start in the middle of an already contentious situation, so I could see the reporter saying something like "whattarya gonna do, punch me out?" a few moments before.

    [(bgz) A similar suggestion was made in the comments to that post. But there's no evidence of such context, and since Davis grew up in Pittsburgh, Occam's Razor suggests that we treat it as the "want V-en" construction that is commonly used there. For those outside of the North Midland region, "need/want V-en" may seem so peculiar that when a use is heard, people naturally try to find rationalizations of this sort to explain it.]

  14. Marc Leavitt said,

    September 9, 2011 @ 4:42 pm

    I've never heard "needs washed" in NJ, but I have heard the "needs —–ing" form.

  15. Carl said,

    September 9, 2011 @ 8:13 pm

    I have things that need washed, but my detergent's all. At least, that's the way I would say it, with my family historically from York county PA.

  16. AJD said,

    September 9, 2011 @ 9:15 pm

    Pflaumbaum: I speak with no authority on this, but it seems to me that the use of "-ing" forms in "needs washing" is only so to speak accidentally passive. The "-ing" forms, I think, are functioning more or less as deverbal nouns—so "washing" in "the car needs washing" is the object of "needs", parallel to "the car needs a wash" or "the car needs lavation". Or at least, I'd imagine that that's the origin of the "needs washing" construction, if not the synchronic analysis of it. There's obviously no real passive in "the car needs lavation", except perhaps buried deep in the lexical semantics.

  17. Dan Lufkin said,

    September 9, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

    A sign on a book-cart in our city library (Frederick, MD) says "Need shelved". We were settled from German-speaking Pennsylvania in the 1740s. The construction seems perfectly normal to us, a matter of register.

  18. jk said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 1:12 am

    I grew up in Chicago and can't recall ever hearing the construction, nor do I remember running into it later in Michigan — which I assume accounts for the fact that I wince when I hear it used by people in the Cleveland area now. Some of them, at least, hail originally from the Pittsburgh-Youngstown area. But I have heard it from others, though I can't say whether they came by it natively or after living many years in the Cleveland area.

    Are there any patterns in what regional speech differences outcompete others — that is, which linger on in speech long after someone has left a region, and which show up most quickly in the speech of non-natives moving into a region?

  19. Kathleen said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 5:28 am

    Adding to the pile of ancdotes . . .

    I live in Western Pennsylvania (between Erie and Pittsburgh) and I hear it every day. The construction is regarded as so normal around here that one sometimes sees it in the newspapers. My students (college-level) have no idea that this is a regional thing that would sound odd in many other parts of the country.

    On an unrelated note, vowels here (especially Os) are doing something I can't pin down, too. I don't think it is the Northern Cities vowel shift, but I could be wrong.

  20. LDavidH said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 6:46 am

    I am an ESL-speaker living in England; I had never heard this construction until I saw it here. So now I wonder: how long is it going to take for 'needs washed' etc to "conquer the world" and become standard in the whole English-speaking world?

  21. John Dunlop said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 8:10 am

    I wouldn't say that "needs washed" is colloquial Scottish English; it's standard Scottish English. "Needs washing" is a regionalism. :-)

  22. John Lawler said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 11:20 am

    @Pflaumbaum, AJD:
    The main reason why need (and want, in some cases) behave this way is because they're modals. Need is actually a modal semi-auxiliary; in Negative Polarity environments, it can behave like a modal auxiliary, without person inflection, and followed by a bare infinitive:

    Bill may not arrive on time.
    Bill will not arrive on time.
    Bill need not arrive on time.

    But only in Negative Polarity environments:

    Bill may arrive on time.
    Bill will arrive on time.
    *Bill need arrive on time.

    As a Negative Polarity Item, need is officially into idiom now.

    As for want, it's not a modal auxiliary in English, but its meaning is in modal territory: German will, which means 'want', is a modal auxiliary, just like English will, which has the deontic meaning 'be willing to', especially in (surprise!) Negative Polarity environments:

    He won't do his homework (='he is unwilling')
    If he just won't do it, we'll have to step in.
    (future will is not allowed in if-clauses;
    if will does occur there, it has to mean 'willing')

    That's the short version: modals and negatives together always produce bizarre and idiomatic syntax.
    See http://www.umich.edu/~jlawler/CELS-Negation.pdf.

    -John Lawler http://www.umich.edu/~jlawler/aue
    "Academic integrity still plagues campus"
    Headline, University of Michigan Daily 11/12/02

  23. John Lawler said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 11:23 am

    Whoops, sorry!
    Shouldn't've signed that. Got confused with alt.usage.english.

  24. Rod Johnson said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 11:55 am

    Why is washed the go-to example, I wonder? Do people say needs eaten, needs painted, needs brushed, needs cleaned, needs mocked, needs recycled, needs instituted, needs sabotaged, needs communicated, needs braised, needs exemplified etc.? 90% of the times I hear this mentioned, it's with washed. It makes me wonder how productive it is, or whether it's confined to a relatively small set of more or less frozen expressions.

  25. Jonathan said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

    In the Obama excerpt, I hear "need rebillin'", with no "d".

  26. Kathleen said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

    @Rod

    I can't explain why "needs washed" is the go-to example, although it certainly is. However, here in western PA, I would not blink at most of your examples. Needs painted, brushed, cleaned, recycled, or braised would all sound perfectly normal here. (No one I know ever actually talks about braising, but I think it would be OK.) "Needs communicated" would be a bit unexpected, as would "needs exemplified." The only one on the list that sounds impossible to me is "needs sabotaged." I think this is because the term is usually used to describe tasks that one really ought to get around to completing, and I don't know anyone who would put "sabotage" on that list.

  27. AJD said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

    John—I must admit that I don't see how your post actually addresses Pflaumbaum's question (i.e., why, in dialects that allow need -ing, does this combination produce a passive interpretation for the -ing verb?).

    How's a.u.e doing? I haven't been there in ages.

  28. John Walden said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

    My tuppence worth as to why '"need" and "want" have that passiveness is not the answer but I think it might be part of the puzzle.

    Unless it's a person it's not really true that the subject actually "needs" or "wants". My car has no feelings, it neither needs nor wants filling. It is indifferent to my car if it gets filled with fuel or not. It's not the same as "I need kissing regularly" because I really do!So there's some anthropomorphism going on. What's that got to do with it?

    As far as the semi-modality of "need"' is concerned, you might expect its behaviour to be "needs filling/doesn't need filling/ needn't fill' on the basis that the modal version would be followed by the bare infinitive, without "do support" and without "to support", if that term exists.

    Going back to the "needs washed", I don't think it's a variant anywhere in England. Is there anything particularly Scottish about the places where it is used in the USA?

  29. Glenn Bingham said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 2:03 pm

    The practice is absent in South Jersey except for a small group of speakers in Pennsville, Salem County. Needless to say, it perks my ears up when I hear it. "Washed" is not essential to the construction.

  30. Jordan said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

    Regarding the outliers in Oregon: I did actually hear the construction while in Eastern (not Southern) Oregon this summer. The woman who said it had strong roots in the area.

  31. delagar said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

    Here in NW Arkansas, where I teach History of the English Language (and thus discuss dialect with my students every semester) this one comes up regularly. "Needs X" doesn't sound the least bit odd to any of my students. "The dog needs washed," "The kids want fed," "My husband needs fed," "The car needs fueled up," are all examples I've collected from them.

    I'll admit these all sound fine to me too, btw, if nothing I would write in a Standard English document.

  32. John Lawler said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

    Why is washed the poster verb for this construction? There's a fixed phrase that one writes (or used to write, when one was younger), with one's finger in the dust on the rear window of a car.
    THIS CAR NEEDS WASHED
    So one actually sees (or has seen) that text.

    As for where the "passive" sense comes from, that follows automatically from the combination of need and a bare participle complement.
    Whether the car needs wash-ed or wash-ing, a wash of some kind is what is needed, whoever is to do it. This wash is needed by the car, which is the subject of needs, so there's an implicit "passive" sense already present from the modal that has nothing to do with the subject or object of the participle of wash; the agent is an unspecified indefinite in any event.

  33. Robert Harris said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 5:59 pm

    We sometimes hear the "needs washed" form around here in central Missouri, not too common, so that my wife and I smile when we hear it. She first heard in about 30 years ago on the U. of Mo. campus. I'm not so sure we hear it often, and certainly it is an oddity off campus.

  34. maidhc said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 6:06 pm

    I'm accustomed to people writing "WASH ME!" on a dirty car. Is that a regionalism too?

  35. Pflaumbaum said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

    Thanks Prof. Lawler, really helpful as usual.

  36. Rod Johnson said,

    September 10, 2011 @ 10:21 pm

    Yeah, "WASH ME" is the fixed phrase in my world.

    Thanks for the elaboration, Kathleen. I put in some of the more unlikely verbs just to see where the boundaries lie. I was speculating that there's a register factor at work, and exemplified et al. were just too fancy for the construction.

    Next question, still on the productivity issue: can either needs or the complement verb be modified? That is, can you say doesn't need washed, needed washed, needs a little washed, needs washed a little?

  37. Kathleen said,

    September 11, 2011 @ 5:24 am

    Hi Rod,

    I think "needs washed" is the most common, but most of the others can happen. More specifically, "That car doesn't need washed" and "Man, that car needed washed" sound like things I would certainly hear around here. "Needs washed a little" sounds possible, but less common. I don't think I've heard anything quite "needs a little washed." Maybe you can't put words between "need" and the verb?

    Some possible examples:
    That grass needs cut. (Or, that lawn needs mowed.)
    That grass needed cut.
    That grass will need cut by next weekend.

    But not:
    That grass needs always cut.
    That grass needs more cut than that other grass.

    My sister from Arizona loves this construction, which sounds very weird to her. I think the high point of a recent trip was when we stopped at a fast-food restaurant in Youngstown, Ohio and she got to hear an employee shout "Hey, Mike! The soda is flat. It needs changed out!"

  38. John Walden said,

    September 11, 2011 @ 5:47 am

    I don't say "I like occasional going to the cinema" but I do say "The lawn needs regular cutting" when I don't say "cutting regularly" of course. Which makes "cutting" far more of a noun than the verb compliment of "need", as AJD has mentioned further up. Despite the noun-ness of the -ing form it does usually get modified by an adverb.

    In fact you could perhaps stick an "a" in there: "The lawn needs a regular cutting".

    Does "The lawn needs cut" admit an adverb:

    "The lawn needs cut regularly" ?

  39. Eric P Smith said,

    September 11, 2011 @ 8:15 am

    @John Walden: Yes, here in Scotland where “The lawn needs cut” and “I need the lawn cut” are considered grammatical, we can equally say “The lawn needs cut regularly” or “I need the lawn cut regularly”.

  40. Sawney said,

    September 11, 2011 @ 10:12 am

    @John Walden One sense of 'need' given in the Concise Scots Dictionary (in addition to need + participle "where Eng has verbal noun") is 'have to be'. So, "the windaes need washt" would be clearly understood as "the windows have to be washed" with absolutely no hint of anthropomorphism.

  41. Rodger C said,

    September 11, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

    @John Walden: "The car needs washed regularly" also sounds natural to me (Ohio Valley of WV). And yes, Western PA and the rest of the North Midland are full of people of Ulster Scots ancestry.

  42. John Lawler said,

    September 11, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

    The "have to be" sense is reminiscent of the Latin gerundive construction, as in Cato's famous Carthago delenda est, translated 'Carthage must be destroyed', in which delenda is the gerundive (a verbal adjective, singular feminine nominative to agree with Carthago, with a passive sense and an implied Necessity ["square"] modal, i.e, 'must') of the verb delēre, 'to destroy'. The construction delenda est therefore means "is to be destroyed". WIth functioning case, gender and number inflection, Latin could do a lot more with verbal nouns than English can.

  43. blahedo said,

    September 11, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

    I lived eight years in west-central Illinois and got quite used to hearing "needs V-en" constructions from a variety of people (although I admit to some surprise at seeing it in newspaper headlines there from time to time).

    The article also mentions another Midlands construction I love, though: positive 'anymore'. I first consciously heard of this construction around 2000 in a linguistics class at Brown, and was reasonably sure at the time that I had literally never heard it before. I still don't hear it very often, but I'm pretty sure it's spreading; two or three years ago, I heard my own mother use it (quite unconsciously) and I nearly dropped the phone—she's lived in Chicago and its suburbs for her entire life, which is decidedly not a Midlands dialect region. It *is* a useful word, and I've used it myself on occasion; not *quite* the same as "nowadays", more like "nowadays but not previously".

  44. John Lawler said,

    September 11, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

    I grew up in N. IL, and my mother in E. IA and S. WI. She and I both use the -α/+α any( )more rather than the NPI any( )more. It's not so much that it's "positive", as that the alternation doesn't have to be positive in the past and negative in the present, like NPI any( )more, which allows only
    I don't take my cleaning there any more
    with positive business in the past and negative business in the present.

    The -α/+α any( )more allows the negative business to be in the past, and positive in present tense, as in
    I take my cleaning there any more

    It's just an extension of +/- to -/+, and that's a very small distinction, the kind that happens all the time in languages.

  45. Alan said,

    September 11, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

    I'm surprised that there's been no mention of the standard joke that in Pittsburgh, the first line of Hamlet's soliloquy in III.i is just "Or not".

  46. Avinor said,

    September 11, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

    Out on a tangent, but could someone please explain the "V-en" notation for the past participle?

    [(bgz) "V-ed" indicates the simple past of verb V, so a different notation is needed for the past participle, since irregular verbs can have different surface forms for the past and past participle. "V-en" borrows its ending from such common past participles as taken and shaken, but it covers all past participles, not just those with the -en ending.]

  47. Rachel said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 6:59 am

    This is fairly common (though not standard) in much of the North East of England.

  48. Thomas said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 8:38 am

    May I take off from the WSJ's "correction" of Obama's statement to suggest a topic on how media do and perhaps should or shoud not "correct" the statements of public figures? The recent flap over NPR's substantive correction of Obama's mistake about Lincoln having "founded" the Republican party is farther afield.

    [(myl) I've afraid that you've been sadly misled, on at least two points.

    In the first place, what NPR did was the normal and unexceptionable journalistic practice of replacing the pre-released text of a speech "as prepared for delivery" with the text "as delivered". An "Editor's Note" on the relevant NPR page explains this.

    In the second place, the alleged mistake was identifying Lincoln as the founder of the Republican party. Whatever the historical facts, this is a commonplace assertion, which can be found on the web site of the Republican National Committee ("Abraham Lincoln helped establish the Republican Party with a speech denouncing an 1854 law, written by a Democrat Senator, that allowed slavery to expand into the western territories. Two years later, he co-founded the Illinois GOP."), and in speeches by Rudy Giuliani ("Immigration was a core belief of a founder of the Republican party, Abraham Lincoln"), Herbert Hoover ("We tonight also pay tribute to [Abraham Lincoln] as founder of the Republican Party and the inspirer of its ideals"), and Mike Huckabee ("it was, in fact, the founder of our party, Abraham Lincoln, who reminded us that a government that can do everything for us is the government that can take everything from us").

    In short, this is a fine example of the absurd manufactured outrage over fake "gaffes" that has unfortunately become the norm in some areas of American political writing. Perhaps you should broaden your reading habits a bit — The American Thinker, Instapundit and their ilk are now at least as deeply afflicted by Obama Derangement Syndrome as any left-wing writer ever was with the corresponding infection of Bush Derangement Syndrome.

    Those readers who have had the good fortune not to notice this particular concocted scandal are welcome to spoil their morning by reading about it here and here.]

  49. Ray Dillinger said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 10:09 am

    There was a time when politics in the US was mainly a matter of interpretations and values; increasingly, it seems to be a matter of outright lies instead. Both of the major parties are deliberately and consistently lying, even about simple verifiable matters of history where a few moments research will suffice to reveal the truth.

    This, in my opinion, needs corrected.

    Ray

  50. octopod said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

    I've heard this construction from several people I know in the Midwest, but never heard it back in California (either Central or Southern). I rather like it.

  51. Kevin said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 10:42 pm

    I was in a meeting today in Ohio, and a systems architect informed me that some module or other "needs tested." I'm embarrassed to say I was at a loss before I remembered reading about this construction on Language Log. Since as a New Yorker I naturally assume that anyone who speaks differently from me is an idiot, a hick, or a pedant, I was taken aback to hear such an obvious regionalism from an accomplished, well-educated man.

  52. thom said,

    September 16, 2011 @ 11:01 am

    I acquired this (very contagious) construction when sharing an office with a Scottish friend as a PhD student ("the cat needs fed" being my first encounter, I think). I've spoken to several Scottish friends and colleagues about it since, and I'm positive it is not a colloquialism.

  53. thom said,

    September 16, 2011 @ 11:04 am

    … the construction has also been used to study learning of new constructions:

    Kaschak, M. P., & Glenberg, A. M. (2004). This construction needs learned. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 133, 450-467.

  54. tanyasingsdido said,

    September 16, 2011 @ 11:40 am

    This construction was standard for me growing up in Northern Ireland too. I never thought it odd until someone I was in a relationship with starting pointing it out all. the. time.

  55. xyzzyva said,

    September 22, 2011 @ 11:46 am

    I myself am a pretty inveterate "(n)g-dropper", but rebuildin' is a bridge too far. Perhaps it's too formal a word to be folksified, or perhaps it's interference from the change of /d/ allophones caused by the syllabic nasal, but I find it almost impossible to say naturally.

  56. latami said,

    May 10, 2012 @ 7:57 pm

    I live in Frederick County Md and am a transplant from western NY. I have been encountering "needs painted", "needs fixed", "needs washed" and some other similar contrivances in ours and surrounding counties for years. We had no such sentence tenses. I find them all extremely odd.
    Was this taught in school? Where is the preposition? Of course I understand the meaning but the construction is wrong. "Needs painting or needs to be painted", etc.
    From whence did this colloquialism originate? The area is heavily Germanic but having taken German in school I've picked up no similar sentence or tense construction. What's the story?

  57. Jo said,

    January 28, 2014 @ 4:11 pm

    My daughter's comm arts teacher said " this needs fixed" today in the Hershey PA. Middle school which, by the way, just received the governor's award. HA. She told him it isn't proper grammar. He told her that it is and she shouldn't correct her teacher. We notice it everyday and it is annoying and just wrong.

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