Monday, 2 July 2018

Danny Dyer should be held account for it

Danny Dyer was briefly everyone's favourite wideboy again last week when he called David Cameron a 'twat' on telly, twice. Here's a link to the Guardian's round-up of the twitter response, with video.

As well as his well-chosen epithet, he also said this:
“How comes he can scuttle off? He called all this on. Where is he? He’s in Europe, in Nice, with his trotters up, yeah, where is the geezer? I think he should be held account for it.”
He repeated that phrase: he should be held account for it. If you've been paying attention to my research interests lately, you'll know that I collect missing prepositions. The most frequently omitted preposition, by far, is to in a directional sense with a familiar location: I'm going to the pub, for instance. (The article the is also omitted; that's not relevant today.) Now, this phrase of Danny Dyer's is normally held to account. He skipped the to. Might this be the same kind of thing?

I think not, partly because this to doesn't have the same characteristics as the commonly-omitted kind. While it is a preposition, it's part of an idiom and doesn't have any directional meaning. It just holds the whole thing together. You can function perfectly well without it without losing any meaning, as demonstrated by Danny himself. The other thing that to my mind makes it more likely that this is a simple speech error is the existence of the basically synonymous phrase held accountable. Then, the to isn't present at all, so it's a straightforward process to mix the two up and come out with held account.


  1. He also said "How comes he can scuttle off?" rather than "how come he can scuttle off?", this whole rant was littered with minor "speech errors" as you politely phrase it, so the missing "to" is just just one more of those.

    I've not heard anyone say "I'm going pub" but when I lived in the north people would say "I'm go-int pub" where the tuh sound at the end of "goin'" was essentially saying to-the very quickly.

    1. Yes, you do also get a reduced article in some parts of the north of England. But I promise, 'I'm going pub' is very much in evidence all over the southeast!
      'How comes' is also a variant and definitely not a mistake in that instance. 'How come' is already quite informal, so it's not as helpful to talk of them as being standard or non-standard, but that would be how I'd put it if I was pushed.