There was some interesting back-and-forth on a recent post that offered as a NOOB the verb sit for, meaning to take a test or examination. A couple of British speakers replied, in essence, Nonsense; we don’t sit for exams, we sit them, minus the for. With no little satisfaction, I reprinted several Oxford English Dictionary examples of sit for=take. But my correspondent correctly pointed out that the most recent was written in 1955. I hadn’t noticed it the first time around, but the OED also has an entry for sit=take (an exam). The oldest citation was from 1957.
On reflection, it occurred to me that something similar has occurred with some other verbs, such as ring up, queue up, and sort out. In all these cases, common British usage has dropped the second word; the current idioms are ring, queue and sort. But–and this is the interesting bit–Americans have picked up the older, two-word form. I call this Phrasal Verb Lag Time, or PVLT for short.
I understand why the Brits would shorten the form, but not why Americans would adopt the long one. Any ideas? I’d be especially interested if Lynne Murphy, over at her excellent blog Separated by a Common Language, has any thoughts.