the spread of adjective-licensed "of"

Paul Johnston paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Mon Jan 21 16:23:34 UTC 2008

Isn't this a reanalysis of a last-gasp example of OE participial
prefix ge- which became schwa in Southwestern English dialects and
came over here as a fossilized form between have and a past-
participle in perfect constructions?  I've heard it analyzed as have,
too.  It's more systematic in the SED material from Somerset, etc.
though plainly,. it's a relic there, too.  I've heard it most
frequently in things like "If I had a-done that, I'd...".

Paul Johnston
On Jan 21, 2008, at 10:52 AM, Dennis Preston wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Dennis Preston <preston at MSU.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: the spread of adjective-licensed "of"
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---------
> You have reason Ron, as Troy Aikman revealed yesterday in the not
> very surprising "Had they not of done..." with a very clearly
> articulated "of." When it's a schwa, we might assume a "double
> perfect " (Had they not have done...."), but the full form shows that
> "of" is indeed becoming a verbal particle.
> dInIs
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>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       ronbutters at AOL.COM
>> Subject:      Re: the spread of adjective-licensed "of"
>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>> ----------
>> Both "of recent" and "how big of a" sound completely normal to me. I
>> have heard both all my life & thought nothing odd about either one.
>> Indeed, I have always assumed that "how big a" was just a shortened
>> form of the FULL form with "of." Cf. the "to" in "help him (to)."
>> I can't believe that actual research (as opposed to the mere
>> reporting of transient impressions) will reveal anything odd or NEW
>> here. Of course, since I am merely reporting my own transient
>> impressions, maybe I am dead wrong. But isn't the burden of proof on
>> those who are made the original claims?
>> Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: "STAHLKE, HERBERT F" <hstahlke at BSU.EDU>
>> Date:         Mon, 21 Jan 2008 00:17:42
>> Subject:      Re: [ADS-L] the spread of adjective-licensed "of"
>> Larry,
>> I'm copying my reply to you because ADS-L has not be accepting my
>> postings now for several years, even when I've changed addresses.
>> I'm wondering if "of recent" isn't along the lines of "of a
>> Monday," the
>> latter now archaic and/or regional.
>> The "of a" you illustrate strikes me as related to another @(v) I've
>> observed.  In clauses like
>> If he had been there.
>> What I hear often is "if he'd /@@/ been there."  The lengthened
>> schwa is
>> almost two syllables in speech.  One of the schwa's is clearly the
>> reduction of "have," but the other can't be that.  I also get it and
>> hear it sometimes in the declarative "He'd /@@/ been there if it
>> hadn't
>> @ rained."  The schwa in this conditional seems to be the same
>> thing as
>> the first of the schwas in the main clause.  I don't have a
>> description
>> of this phenomenon, but there is clearly something going on that
>> reanalyzes both "have" and "of."
>> Herb
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>> 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".
>> LH
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> --
> Dennis R. Preston
> University Distinguished Professor
> Department of English
> Morrill Hall 15-C
> Michigan State University
> East Lansing, MI 48864 USA
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