[Ads-l] "just as good _of_ a(n) NP"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Oct 23 13:59:30 UTC 2015

Another factor for some speakers: size matters.  And so do parts of speech.  I'm used to "not that good of an X" for decades, and with other short, especially monosyllabic, adjectives it doesn't seem that marked, e.g. "not that strong/great/bad of an X".  But with polysyllabic adjectives it seems much less natural to me.  This morning, on Mike & Mike (ESPN radio) the Mets' elder statesman Michael Cuddyer (almost 37 years old; actually, Bartolo Colon is five years elder a statesman), was asked about the impressive impact of the youthful pitchers--de Grom, Syndegaard, Harvey, Matz--who have led the Mets into the World Series, noted that it was especially gratifying  

"to be able to do it at that young of an age and that collection of a group"

For me, "that young of an age" wouldn't raise that big of an eyebrow; "that collection of a group" doesn't even feature an adjective (making it a somewhat odd conjunction in the first place), but if we replace it with "that impressive (of) a group" or "that extraordinary (of) a performance", the [+of] versions strike me as much more marked than the one with "young".  By the evidence of Arnold's students, this does make me a fuddy-duddy, but then again someone who blanches at even monosyllabic [+of] EDMs is fuddy-duddier.


> On Oct 19, 2015, at 12:48 PM, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at stanford.edu> wrote:
>> On Oct 19, 2015, at 7:06 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>> Subject:      Re: "just as good _of_ a(n) NP"
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Agreed on the widespread popularity of the + versions for younger =
>> speakers, and on the citation of the recency effect, but I'm not sure =
>> that we really be sure that (quoting Arnold, with contrastive =
>> *highlighting* added) for the relevant speakers (of any age) who =
>> accept/produce the +of version in the relevant contexts that
>>> it is now simply *the* standard form.  they understand the older -of =
>> EDM, but
>>> for them it must come from an odd non-standard dialect, or it=E2=80=99s
>>> terminally old-fashioned, or it=E2=80=99s a typo.
>> Can we be sure, without direct empirical feedback, that such speakers =
>> don't accept both + and - versions as standard and natural?
> actually, i had a whole class of stanford undergraduates who weighed in on the question when the subject came up in class, and they all though the +of versions were just *mistakes* — failures to Include All Necessary Words, in fact (they had that concept).  a few of them said they’d been taught not to use of “of”, but they dismissed that advice as dumb stuff that schoolteachers try to impose on kids.
> since then, i’ve unsystematically questioned other undergraduates, and older people.  the youngfolk are unanimous.  but even a few of the older informants (one in his 50s!) treated  +of EDM as weird and foreign to them.
> i stopped collecting examples of +of EDM years ago; there were just too many of them.
> arnold
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