Intrusive "of"

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Mon Nov 10 16:42:46 UTC 2008

On Nov 10, 2008, at 7:49 AM, Arnold Zwicky wrote:

> follow-up to my previous response: we had extensive discussions here
> of ordinary degree marking ("how big a house") vs. exceptional degree
> marking ("how big of a house") on 9-10 june 2007 (thread:  so big a
> house) and 20-22 january 2008 (thread: the spread of adjective-
> licensed "of").

and EDM turned up in a discussion of "based off (of) a book" (and P +
"of" combinations in general) on 29-31 may 2006 (threads: idiolect or
more widespread?; P + "of").

it's characteristic that mention of one problematic use (or absence)
of "of" calls up discussion of a bunch of others ("of" with
premodifiers, as in "a couple (of) problems"; the expression "of
recent" 'recently'; and a number of others).  EDM and P + "of" are
especially likely to be treated together (as Alison Murie did), though
they have nothing in common structurally or historically.  people
often see these two as symptoms of a general (inexplicable) fondness
for "of", as if some people were inclined to toss in "of" all over the

for some entertaining discussion of the War on "Of", see my Language
Log posting (which also discusses "underneath of"):


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