Caused For.

I pass along this disturbing news from the Log to forewarn the public that there are apparently a fair number of people (to judge from the comment thread there) who accept the following constructions as perfectly good English:

“The accident caused for two lanes and one inbound express lane to be blocked.”

“Philadelphia has been looking to start a fire sale at the deadline, but a lot of their demands have caused for teams to back away from making deals.”

“A trend called the ‘Fire Challenge’ made popular through social media websites caused for a 14-year from the Crosby area to be hospitalized with second-degree burns to his body.”

In the comments, John Lawler helpfully provides “a couple quick lists of verbs relevant to this construction”:

Verbs that optionally allow V for X to VP
call
choose
vote
decide
arrange
allow
want
provide
need

Verbs that do not allow V for X to VP
*demand
*pick
*get
*assign
*select
*trust
*equip
*guarantee
*insist
*promise
*offer

Ethan responds:

There must be considerable idiolectic variation in which verbs are in which category. For me the only verbs I would normally accept from your list “optionally allow V for X to VP” are call, vote, arrange, and (sounds to my ears like instructions to a toddler) “I need for you to VP“.

At any rate, this is, of course, merely language change in action and not cause for alarm, but it has certainly caused my brain [*for?] to seize up.

Comments

  1. I think that should be ‘certainly caused for my brain to seize up’. These new-fangled expressions are so easy to get WRONG!

  2. You’re right! I’m a fuddy-duddy!

  3. When I was taught generative syntax more than a quarter of a century ago, the for . . . to . . . construction occurred very often in our exercises somewhere in mid derivation, but the underlying for was dropped in most instances before reaching the surface ([John [[PAST will] [prefer [it [for you to leave early]]] => John would prefer you to leave early — you get the drift).

    A quick Internet search yields more interesting examples of “cause for”:

    I believe that because I had been in such a discouraged and lifeless stage, when I was twenty years old, the depression that almost caused for me to commit suicide. (2004)

    His type of dedication to fellow Soldiers is what has caused for me to become an officer in the Army. (2009)

    Mrs Abbot was processing what she had experienced when the sound of a car engine being started, caused for her to turn around. (2003)

    But note that sometimes the surface sequence cause for sb to do sth is perfectly grammatical (if a little opaque), as in this example involving it-extraposition (from 1870!):

    I know the sacrifice of feeling which it has caused for them to adopt this principle in their faith and lives.

  4. For to seize up sounds like Kipling-esque Cockney to me:

    For to admire an’ for to see,
    For to be’old this world so wide . . .

  5. I thought it was Borat-esque, but there isn’t actually a “to” in there. Just goes to show how easy it is to make memory conform to prejudice.

  6. I think Piotr’s got a hold of the right end of the stick here: this is dialect mixing between Standard English (no for except in subject positions, as in “For him to dance was an awkward business”) and other dialects with for … to or for to.

  7. Stefan Holm says:

    I notice, that in Piotr’s examples caused for me/her/them/ the expressions are indirect (dative) objects (where ‘for’ could have been omitted, were English still an inflectional language). That may make them a little less odd than letting a transitive verb like ’cause’ take a redundant ‘for’ in front of a direct (accusative) object.

    The for … to constructions are different and meaning ‘in order to’ or ‘with the intention/purpose to’. In Swedish ‘for’ is mandatory in those cases. ‘I’m here to win’ must be ‘jag är här för att vinna’ (for to win).

  8. While I like the proposals and discussion here so far, I don’t think it’s an old dialect thing, just modern stupidity.

    I think it’s probably just a mix of people confusing “calls for” and “cause for”, possibly mixed with people mishearing “caused further X” as “caused for the X”.

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