Judge Crater didn’t “went missing,” he vanished.
So have hundreds of thousands of other people over time.
But now, people don’t vanish, disappear, get kidnapped, abducted or captured.
They “go missing.”
Like someone went shopping. Or went out to eat. Or went to bed.
Well, if we’re going to use this construction, let’s really USE it.
A guy got pushed off a subway platform in
But did the guy die, or was it that he “went dead.” Like a telephone line without a dial tone or a cable TV box when you don’t pay the bill. (or when you do, but the cable company’s transmission “went ka-flooey.”
It’s politically incorrect, but historically common to say someone who lost his mind “went nuts.”
I guy loses control of his car and hits a tree. Earlier that evening, he “went drunk.”
The woman “went pregnant.”
Mere semantics, you say?
Semantics, yes. “Mere” semantics, no.
Words represent concepts.
Regular readers/listeners to these rants know that. Or at least this space has “went conceptual” more than once.
So what is the concept we’re examining when someone “went missing?”
Why it’s this: the person bears no responsibility for the action. Something happened over which the person who “went” had no control.
The guy who “went drunk” HAD control over his situation, at least until the third martini.
The guy on the subway platform did not. And his limbs and other assorted parts CERTAINLY did not.
So, “went missing” leaves the (not so clear) implication that the person had nothing to do with what happened to him.
The cop who was shot in the line of duty yesterday (
But saying it that way sounds… well… imbecilic.
But not for long.
Once one of these phrases gets into the language, it tends to stick and expand.
How many times have you heard the relatively recent “at the end of the day….”?
It might have been good usage the first time or even the first thousand times, when applied to something that actually happened at the end of a day.
But now, it’s EVERYWHERE.
Soon, the word “went” will be applied to all kinds of things we’re not used to hearing. And by this time next year, we’ll accept it as part of the language.
This essay has “went done.”
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™