because info

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Mon Jan 6 16:55:21 UTC 2014

Regarding my stance on the POS for "because", I didn't claim in the
Grammar Girl piece that it was a preposition; she wrote the title
herself, "'Because' as a preposition," presumably because she figured
this would be a likely phrase for people to be searching for. My own
opinion is based on reading the arguments in CGEL for its overall POS
system: "Because" has always been a preposition, one that takes a
clausal complement. This is how CGEL classifies just about all of what
are traditionally called subordinating conjunctions, except for the
complementizers "that", "if", and "whether". So when "because" takes an
NP complement, it is indeed a preposition, but just one that now can
take one more kind of complement (like a verb that can take a
"that"-clause gaining the ability to take an NP or PP complement).
However, I did not put this opinion in the GG piece; there, I stuck with
calling it a subordinating conjunction, and calling "because of" a
compound preposition, and staying theory-neutral by referring to the
innovative construction as "because NOUN".

If I could do it again, I would still call "because" a subordinating
conjunction in the GG script, while privately considering it a
preposition. Although Pullum makes good distinctions between "because"
and "and" in CGEL and on LL, these distinctions are already reflected by
calling "because" a subordinating (not coordinating) conjunction. And
although the distinctions between subordinating conjunctions like "that"
and those like "because" are enough to convince me of their different
nature, it's a radical enough departure from the traditional
classification that I'm not going to push it for a popular audience.

However, this time around, I would not call "because of" a compound
preposition, based on Pullum's revealing arguments about the
separability of "because" and "of" in his LL post.

The new usage of "because" I would probably now call "because X," to
recognize the non-NP complements that Gretchen McCullough and Stan Carey
note that it takes, and again refrain from calling it a preposition.


On 1/6/2014 7:58 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: because info
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Sun, Jan 5, 2014 at 12:42 PM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> [...]
>> Note that the recent coverage has followed Neal by calling "because" a
>> preposition. I refrained from calling it that in the WOTY press
>> release, and now Gretchen McCulloch provides an extensive argument
>> against treating the new "because" as a preposition:
> For more on matters syntactic, see the Language Log post by Geoff
> Pullum, who argues that "because" should have been considered a
> preposition all along:
> --bgz
> --
> Ben Zimmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list