To call for

Posted by R. Berg on March 23, 2002

In Reply to: To call for posted by TheFallen on March 23, 2002

: : I first encountered it in 1990. It seems ridiculous to me too (even though I'm a US-an). I think the derivation is likely as follows. "Call for" means "require"/"demand", as in "The recipe calls for two eggs" or "The plans call for nine yards of concrete". Now some dummy interpreted "call for" here as "specify", i.e., "The recipe calls for two eggs" = "The recipe specifies two eggs". Then by analogy if the forecast specifies two inches of snow it is reasonable to say "The forecast calls for two inches of snow" ... at least it seemed reasonable to the dummy. Then, given numerous dummies of sufficient dumbness, it's a short step to "The weatherman calls for two inches of snow". But maybe I'm being too pessimistic about the current state of US-an (or human) literacy and intelligence.

: I think you may be right - it's very plausible. Like you, no matter how cynical I become about the current state of all matters linguistic and grammatical, regardless of territory or nation state, I cannot convince myself that I am anything other than a realist.

A speculation: The path from "The forecast calls for . . ." to "The weatherman calls for . . .," spoken by news announcers, was greased by
the idea that personalizing the news adds appeal. The on-camera staff present themselves to the audience as a cozy little group. Consistent with this image, an anchor guy or anchor lady will say "Now let's find out whether our own Harry Hailstone calls for rain this weekend," not "Now let's find out whether the maps and computer projections that came over the wire from the National Weather Service call for rain this weekend." (A few days ago I suggested that the interviewer who wished good luck to both sides was operating from a social, not an intellectual, orientation. I'm saying something similar here.)

There's also the idea of calling a storm in the sense of predicting one. "Harry Hailstone called these showers yesterday and scooped the competition." Maybe that acts as a contaminant.