to call somebody on something

seitt

Senior Member
English/Welsh
Greetings

This (i.e. the expression "to call somebody on something") has always been a mystery to me.

In the film “Burlesque” (2010), Marcus tells Ali that she is the best view in the whole city (she had been expecting him to name a place):
ALI: How many girls have you used that on (i.e. that compliment)?
MARCUS: None who ever called me on it.

It also comes up in Leonard Cohen’s “Coming Back To You”
< deleted >
But you know that I still love you
It's just that I can't speak
I looked for you in everyone
And they called me on that too
< deleted >

All the best, and many thanks,

Simon
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    To call someone on something or to call someone out on something = to challenge. Usually in the sense that the listener does not believe the speaker or believes that the speaker is being deceptive.

    "I told him that I had been to the top of Mount Everest and he called me out [on it]. Then I showed him the photos."
     

    seitt

    Senior Member
    English/Welsh
    Ah, thank you - as soon as you add 'out' it all becomes much clearer.

    By the way, it's here:
    http://nldslab.soe.ucsc.edu/charactercreator/film_corpus/film_2012xxxx/dialogues/Burlesque.dial
    ALI: What's the first? He gazes at her. She rolls her eyes. (These last two sentences should be in brackets)
    ALI: How many girls have you used that on?
    MARCUS: None who ever called me on it.

    So, Ali is calling Marcus on his compliment both with her body language (rolling her eyes) and with her verbal challenge, isn’t she? But can we use the expression like that i.e. “calling someone on his compliment”?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    1. Yes she is.
    2. Ali sees Marcus's words not as a compliment but as a trite saying, a cliché and hence insincere. So yes, she can call him out - challenge him as to the sincerity.
     
    Top