approximative VP adverbials

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Wed Jan 24 05:20:12 UTC 2001

listening to an interview of dolly parton on Fresh Air today, i caught
an (unsurprising) occurrence of the approximative VP adverbial "about"
in her speech - something along the lines of "I about fainted".

now this is not part of my dialect, which has "almost" and "nearly" in
this function (presumably, these are also available in parton's
tennessee mountain dialect).  *however*, "just about" is fine for me:
"I just about fainted".  this is an odd little wrinkle.

there is a further aspectual wrinkle to approximative adverbial
"about": for me, unmodified "about" is ok in rather constrained
aspectual contexts.  "I about finished it" is out for me (presumably
ok in appalachian english), but plain "about" is fine in perfects:
"I've/I'd about finished it."

appalachian varieties presumably lack an aspectual condition on
(approximative adverbial) "about" that my variety has.  does anyone
know of any discussion of these facts?  is there a characterization of
this aspectual condition that would predict that it's lifted when
"about" is modified by "just", or is this just a arbitrary fact about
my variety?

arnold (zwicky at

More information about the Ads-l mailing list