as ADJ of a N as

Joan Houston Hall jdhall at WISCMAIL.WISC.EDU
Wed Feb 18 20:06:13 UTC 2004

DARE treats it at "of"  section B, subsection g.  It's pretty well
scattered, but somewhat more common in the South.

At 06:13 PM 2/18/2004 +0000, you wrote:
>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Lynne Murphy <M.L.Murphy at SUSSEX.AC.UK>
>Subject:      as ADJ of a N as
>Hello all,
>I've been off the list for some time tentatively coming back to
>find out whether there is such thing as a healthy work-ADS-L balance.  An
>especially hearty 'hello' to those I used to regularly correspond with
>through this medium.
>Anyhow...a query.
>A colleague here read an American student's phrasing "As old of a joke as
>this is..." and queried whether the rest of us could say such a thing.
>(Almost) needless to say, I could, but my British colleagues couldn't.
>Some other examples via google:
>It's as nice of a stock trailer as you will ever see.
>As old of a game it is, it stays fresh...
>Even if it did, its concentration would be much less than it is now, so it
>pose as serious of a threat as it does to South Asian residents (this e.g.,
>is actually Canadian).
>The British can say "as old a joke as this", so it's the _of_ that's
>particularly N American.  (I can say it either way, and suspect that other
>Americans can too, but let me know if I've been Anglified.)
>My 'theory' about it:
>I'd guess that the 'of' could be considered something like an (would I be
>inventing this concept?) 'epenthetic morpheme' that's inserted in order to
>prevent a perceived ungrammatical string ('nice a stock trailer', 'old a
>joke')  (Could we talk of morphotactic or grammotactic or syntactotactic
>constraints here?).  I think one hears 'of' used in such a way in other
>American constructions (and I remember in Texas feeling that some of my
>students inserted 'of's into sentences willy-nilly--but part of that was
>the perception that they'd use 'of' when they should have used a different
>preposition). Unfortunately, I can't think of those other constructions...
>So, my questions:
>1.  Is it regional in N Amer?  Is it considered to be lower-register in any
>2.  How would you parse the phrase---is it [[As Adj] [of NP}] or [As [Adj
>[of NP]]?
>3.  Would you agree with the 'epenthetic' of analysis?  Can you think of
>other cases of epenthetic 'of'?
>4.  Is there anything published on this construction?
>Thanks in advance...
>Dr M Lynne Murphy
>Lecturer in Linguistics
>Department of Linguistics and English Language
>Arts B133
>University of Sussex
>Brighton BN1 9QN
> >From UK:  (01273) 678844
>Outside UK: +44-1273-678844

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