Unexpected variations

Recently, John Kasich amused viewers of the GOP primary by saying things like, “The economy needs healed.” Standard English says either ‘the economy needs healing’ or ‘the economy needs to be healed’. Such usages crop up; we esp notice Southernisms like ‘might could’ and ‘might ought to’. These are non-standard but surely as much a part of English as are standard forms.
Another one that surprised me was ‘give it me’. Either ‘give it to me’ or ‘give me it’, the latter sounding a bit juvenile in tone. But ‘give it me’ occurs in the northwest, midlands and southeast of England. (The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, p. 323).
Some appear restricted to one side or the other of ‘the Pond’, e.g. go to university or be in hospital, minus the article. Such differences seem minor when we find them in a foreign language we are studying, but hearing them in our own can be jarring. “Do people really say that?”
My thought is that if English teachers are more aware of such variation, they will be less condemnatory when they hear non-standard forms from students. Just move them to the standard without denigrating the non-standard.
Recently a discussion occurred on a listserv about a story written for Spanish learners in which the definite article was absent. One person questioned it. I believe there was a hidden motive of attacking the material as ‘improper’ b/c the author touts a methodology disapproved of by the one posting the observation.. Interestingly, several native speakers chimed in to say that leaving off the article seemed OK to them and one remarked that it was quite common in Argentine. I happen to know that the writer of the story learned his Spanish during a 2 year stint in Argentina 🙂

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