as such 'therefore'

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Mon Nov 21 17:02:08 UTC 2005

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

arnold (zwicky at

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