approximative VP adverbials

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Wed Jan 24 16:19:49 UTC 2001

I've heard "about" in this construction many times in SE/Appalachian Ohio,
but never in the perfect. For me, too, "I've about [=almost] finished my
work" is quite different from "I about fainted"; the latter seems always to
be used metaphorically, not literally (this apparently is the case with
Bethany's "liketa" also).  I might use "just about" either literally or
figuratively, but if the latter never in the perfect:  *I've just about
fainted."  Similarly, I suspect Bethany wouldn't say "I've liketa
died"?  But I'm sure App Eng speakers, at least in my area, might say "I've
about finished," with literal meaning.  Might the nonperfective usage be
limited to figurative uses, i.e., as a lexical restriction?

At 09:20 PM 1/23/01 -0800, you wrote:
>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

Beverly Olson Flanigan         Department of Linguistics
Ohio University                     Athens, OH  45701
Ph.: (740) 593-4568              Fax: (740) 593-2967

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