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Monday, November 23, 2009

Poll Results 63

Here was the question:

Is this right? "He would lie himself down at their feet if he had to?"
Yes 12 (17%)
No 55 (82%)

Congrats to 82% of you. When it's just you relaxing on a couch, you lie down. When you put something down, or yourself down, you lay something down, as in "Now I lay me down to sleep." So this had to be "He would lay himself down..."

6 comments:

Amy said...

Could you talk this over with Grammar Girl? In her Episode 37, she says "...you lay something down, people lie down by themselves, and Eric Clapton can help us remember." She said "Lay Down Sally" suggests that someone should grab her and lay her down, not that she lies down on her own. So I thought that if he lies himself down, that would fit the bill.

But then, that episode just discusses present and past tenses. Is that what I'm missing here? I have so much to learn!

The Sentence Sleuth said...

In the past, this is how it goes:

Yesterday, I lay down on the couch for 3 hours.
Yesterday, I laid my baby down to sleep at 10pm.
Yesterday, I laid myself down.

Westley said...

I don't think it's related to tense. The question is whether or not there is an object for the verb to use. Yes, "Lay Down Sally" does sound like an instruction for someone to take her and put her somewhere, but if she were to recline on her own, then she would lie down. (Try replacing 'lie' with 'recline'; if it still makes sense, then it's probably right.)

In the example given, there is an object; he is laying something down: himself. If he were to recline at their feet, then he would just lie down, but that doesn't sound as exciting.

grayline88s said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
grayline88s said...

Clapton's use of "lay" is incorrect, given the meaning suggested in the lyric. The line after the title (Lay Down Sally)is "Rest you in my arms." I don't think he means to have Sally laid in his arms as if she were comatose or dead. Pop lyricists are renowned for writing illiterate words. I think much of it is due to music taking precedence over words. Also, finding the precise words for music takes lots of patience, which few contemporary pop song writers have.

Clapton, not known as a lyricist anyway, probably didn't spend much time at all on this lyric. Going with the gist of the song, I can immediately think of two plausible titles that would fit with the music: "Slow Down Sally," or "Sit Back, Sally." Maybe what really "created" the lame title is the underlying meaning in the song--to get LAID by Sally.

prashant said...
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