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Go + noun? Idiom or bad grammar?

Go + noun? Is it an idiom or bad grammar?

There’s an old Finnish road movie parody about a Soviet accordion band (played by a Finnish group) that goes to the USA. The title of the movie is “Leningrad Cowboys Go America”.

In 1995, a yearly art happening was born in Helsinki, Finland, where small art exhibitions are put up in pubs and restaurants. The happening is called “Art Goes Kapakka” (‘kapakka’ = pub).

With Google you get about 8 000 results with search term “goes America”, and 25 000 with “go America”. In some of them America is the subject of the sentence, but in some of them it is used in the same way as in the Finnish slogans. What strikes me in the latter case is that so many of the net sites are Finnish or German.

Now is this structure just bad grammar from Finnish slogan-makers who didn’t do their homework at school, or is it an idiom used also in the Anglo-Saxon world? I know the expression ‘go crazy’. Can a noun be also used?

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Heh. I couldn't see anything wrong with it, so I thought I'd wait to see what others said before I commented. The construction is not used in formal contexts, but it is fairly common in colloquial, "everyday" speech.

After checking a dictionary (American Heritage 2000), I notice that the construction is grammatically correct. Here's the part of the definition that applies:

10a. To continue to be in a certain condition or continue an activity: "go barefoot."
b. To come to be in a certain condition: "go mad;" "hair that had gone gray."

Notice that all the examples in the definition follow the form "go [adjective]" (as does "go kapakka"), but your first example looks like "go [noun]." This is actually OK. Most nouns may easily become adjectives, when they are used to modify other nouns (I do not know the formal grammar term for this). Examples of this are "Windsor knot," "Greenwich time," and "computer software." (We've talked about this in another thread a few weeks ago.)

speedwell2 November 9, 2004 @ 8:23AM

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I like Kaurismäki, no matter how he titles his films! :-)
I know that he meant "... go America" in the same way one may say "... go crazy." But just wonder is the title just the same in Finnish? Or had it been released with a Finish title?

goossun November 11, 2004 @ 1:27PM

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Perenna, I guess that has to do with a Scandinavian symptom that came to exist during 60's and 70's. Although Finland may not be consider "Scandinavian", however it was and is fashionable to upload the native language with English words or phrases. Yet not all the Kaurismäki's films have English title,some are in finish. It is not for poster either because they have to print it differently anyway in different countries. It is even sometime awkward. For instance I would say "I hierd a hitman" rather than a "contract killer."

goossun November 12, 2004 @ 3:37PM

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Certainly "go " is valid, but doesn't mean exactly the same thing as "go to ". I'm not at all familiar with the movie, but is it possible that the title is intentionally bad grammar that means "Leningrad Cowboys go to America", but is conjuring an image of non-Americans (from Leningrad) who, as non-natives, can't speak English very well? A sort of politically incorrect jab at foreigners?

porsche May 1, 2007 @ 2:43PM

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Common (London, UK) talk now is to say e.g. I'm going McDonald's to mean I'm going TO McDonald's.
Not a good language progression to lose the preposition, methinks, but this is the way youngsters around here express themselves.

Peter Wilkins June 15, 2011 @ 3:34AM

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