Thursday, November 21, 2013

"English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet"

"The word "because," in standard English usage, is a subordinating conjunction, which means that it connects two parts of a sentence in which one (the subordinate) explains the other. In that capacity, "because" has two distinct forms. It can be followed either by a finite clause (I'm reading this because [I saw it on the web]) or by a prepositional phrase (I'm reading this because [of the web]). These two forms are, traditionally, the only ones to which "because" lends itself."
I mention all that ... because language. Because evolution. Because there is another way to use "because." Linguists are calling it the "prepositional-because." Or the "because-noun."

You probably know it better, however, as explanation by way of Internet — explanation that maximizes efficiency and irony in equal measure. I'm late because YouTube. You're reading this because procrastination. As the linguist Stan Carey delightfully sums it up: "'Because' has become a preposition, because grammar."
Written by Megan Garber for The Atlantic, as it appeared on Mashable 

16 comments:

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I was taught you're not supposed to say "the reason is because . . ."

We still good on that?

Sixty Grit said...

That needs fixed.

Rabel said...

This raises a question I have for the commentatership here at Lem's.

Our President pronounces "because" as "becuz."

It's clearly pronounced and not simply a slurring and from my experience is not common to African Americans. That is, he's not doing a Hillary-like "Black" or Southern accent.

So the question is, where is this pronunciation common. Where did he pick it up - Hawaii, Kansas, Boston, Indonesia?

Mumpsimus said...

My guess is that "because [noun]" will not last long; it doesn't do anything novel or useful, it merely conveys snark.

But I'm not going to bet on it. Predicting what the English language will do next is a mug's game. ("Mug's game" had a good run, but is now almost extinct.)

rhhardin said...

It's still heard as "because of" rather than becoming a preposition on its own.

Mitch H. said...

It's slang, not new language. In twenty years, it'll enjoy a brief resurgence in the mouths of clowns playing ought-teens hipster douchebags, probably with some improbable elaboration which was never actually used by the originators of the slang, and then it'll go into the irony toolbox to be occasionally used by the Patton Oswalts of the 2040s.

Michael Haz said...

Because bad writing.

Chip Ahoy said...

Check for six hundred fifty dollars. Because fonix.

Chip Ahoy said...

"Because a."

JAL said...

Because stupid.

JAL said...

Rabel --

Don't know where it comes from, but this dude Prez we have really has no connection to Kansas. He visited on the campaign trail.

His grandparents did not care for their home state much.

Paddy O said...

because isn't pronounced becuz?

Synova said...

That doesn't seem like a prepositional usage to me.

Leaving words out so that a sentence is technically grammatically incorrect is something we do all the time.

See?

To be correct that should have been "something we do all of the time" but we leave the "of" out, even though it's still there in a functional sense. It's simply assumed. If you were diagramming the sentence "the time" would go on one of those little elbows for prep phrases with nothing written on the vertical line where the preposition goes.

If we're saying "because of the internet" and just shortening it to "because internet," or, "I went to see Thor because Chris Hemsworth." There is an assumed "of" and perhaps an assumed determiner like "the". The word "because" doesn't change function. It's used just exactly the same way it was used previously.

"Because" is still subordinating, it's just introducing an elliptical phrase or clause, which means absolutely nothing more complicated than that parts are missing.

When speaking, undoubtedly because the elliptical usage is new and we haven't smoothed it out yet, the elliptical "because" phrasing is generally indicated by a pause or a stop. "I went to see Thor because (stop) Chris Hemsworth."

Eye rolls and other signifying body language optional.

Synova said...

I doubt this will endure any longer than the terminal "not".

Synova said...

I'm pretty sure I say "becuz".

I might say "becawz" on occasion, but I think that is from moving around.

deborah said...

I say becuz most of the time.