I noticed this banner ad on the window of my local city library:
Obviously it means a parent can sign their child up to join the library for free, but it’s open to another interpretation – that parents themselves are invited to sign up for free, thereby joining their child, who is implied to be a member already.
Indeed, this second reading may be the more natural one in similar lines not referring exclusively to children. Consider the more ambiguous join your friend for free, or join the rest of your family for free.
Usually when person A joins person B it means they meet or come together. Or A, a priest, might join B and C in marriage. Join in the sense become a member, as in the photo, usually has the organisation or entity as the direct object of join: she joined the library; he joined the queue.
It struck me as an idiosyncratic but economical usage of join. And though it doesn’t appear to be in any of the major dictionaries yet, a rummage around online shows it’s quite common in similar contexts. This stands to reason, since parents routinely act on a child’s behalf when the child joins a library, club, school activity, and so on.
I got to wondering what preposition would follow this usage, were it extended to include one. Probably to: Join your child to the library. This may conjure images of parents sticking their children to the building with Velcro, but sure enough there are several examples online of parents being invited to join your child to the library/club/centre/class.
Have you noticed this use of join? What are your thoughts on it?