approximative VP adverbials

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Wed Jan 24 13:59:23 UTC 2001


My "near-Appalachian" reactions are similar to yours, but I wonder if
"I 'bout fianted' and "I 'bout finished it" are perfects with some
phonological processes at work? Unstressed "a" dropping (from
"about") inevitably brings it in contact with the also vulnerable 'v'
and 'z' forms of the perfect. Loss of those (in ugly 'vb' and 'zb'
clusters) might make perfects look like nonperfects. Perhpas "careful
speech" would result in a "reanalysis" such as "I about ..." if that
is in fact what you heard. I'm not against your more delicate
aspectual inmterpretation, but I wonder if these processes might not
be involved.


>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

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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