as such 'therefore'

Alice Faber faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Mon Nov 21 17:12:28 UTC 2005

Arnold M. Zwicky wrote:
> On Nov 21, 2005, at 5:21 AM, David Bowie wrote, about consequential
> "as such":
>> You mean this usage isn't standard?
>> <snip>
>> David, who was seriously surprised
> wonderful.  this happens so often that someone should collect
> instances.  usage U is reported.  X observes that U is nonstandard,
> or ungrammatical,  scarcely comprehensible, and probably rare.  and
> Y, who sees nothing odd about U, asks, in effect, "doesn't everyone
> say that?"  crucially, Y is highly educated, a practiced and
> effective speaker and writer, etc.  (in the tale of GoToGo, i was Y,
> by the way.)
> the larger point here is that no one, absolutely no one, can know
> *all* the details about what is standard or not in a language.  our
> first experience of variation is just of the existence of variants.
> then our job is to figure out (if we care about such things) which
> variants are associated with specific social groups or contexts and
> are not freely available in the standard.  but this is a task that
> *cannot* be performed perfectly, by real people in real time in real
> situations, and we're likely to guess that some new variants are
> "standard-ok" -- especially with usages that would be likely to be
> infrequent on other grounds (see previous posting in reply to jon
> lighter).

I first encountered this phenomenon when my ex-husband (who, as a
teenager, had consciously tried to eradicate all regionalisms associated
with his native Philadelphia from his speech) expressed shock that
"positive anymore" wasn't totally standard. (This would have been in the

Alice Faber                                    faber at
Haskins Laboratories                           tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
New Haven, CT 06511 USA                        fax (203) 865-8963

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