the spread of adjective-licensed "of"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Jan 21 03:34:43 UTC 2008

FWIW, I rarely - if ever - hear the traditional version (without "of") anymore, either in the media or in real life.  And I'm quite certain this is not a matter of "selective attentiveness."
  All of my well-educated non-academic friends use it habitually - and they're about my age.

  I first noticed it on freshman papers many years ago - how many, I can't say, but it was certainly common, around here, by 1990. In fact, I'm inclined to say it was the *norm* for freshmen by that time. If someone came up with a date of ten or fifteen years earlier I wouldn't be at all surprised.


Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Laurence Horn
Subject: the spread of adjective-licensed "of"

I'm sure Arnold has a better label for this construction, which we've
discussed here in the past. What struck me today was the proximity
of two occurrences, one in print that suggests the occurrence of the
"adjective-of-a" construction (what some might consider epenthetic
"of") that has moved beyond the colloquial into at least semi-formal
style, as seen in this headline in an Allstate ad on the back cover
of today's NYT Week in Review:

How long of a retirement should you plan for?

Somehow I wouldn't bat my eye at a sportscaster wondering on the air,
"How long of a run was that?", but the occurrence in a newspaper ad
seems a bit odder.

The other intrusive prep. occurs in spoken and indeed sportscasterese
register (from the broadcast of today's AFC championship game on
CBS), but what's interesting is the construction itself, which seems
pretty foreign to me, although obviously interpretable:

The guy who's really putting this team over the top of recent is Maroney.

Hard to search "of recent" on google for obvious reasons, but I'm
guessing it could be a nonce blend of "recently" + "of late".


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