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Seen on Twitter: “English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet” (theatlantic.com)

In brief, someone at the Atlantic noticed some discussion of the construction “because X”, where X can be basically anything. This usage is (you probably know, because this is the Internet) common on The Internet; Mark Liberman at Language Log wrote about it last year. The story is that ‘because’ has become a preposition, where it used to be limited to introducing a dependent clause as a subordinating conjuntion or complementizer and being used with ‘of’ to introduce a prepositional phrase.

However, I believe that the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Huddleston and Pullum, 2002) already classified ‘because’ as a preposition — they have a discussion of why they disagree with some traditional categories, including subordinating conjunctions. I don’t have a copy available so I can’t look up exactly what they say, but see the Wikipedia article on Prepositions for references. I like their analysis because of reasons — I’m a wannabe iconoclast, and also it made sense to me when I read it.

Anyway, my main beef is that I am not so sure we should consider the ‘because X’ construction grammatical, anyway. Sure, it’s widely used on the Internet, but so is lolspeak, for example. It’s entirely possible that this usage may persist long enough to be accessible to non-self-conscious usage, but for now (for me, at least) it seems to require a conscious deviation from normal language use, very similar to saying something like, “i can haz prepositional ‘because’?”.

Update: I found a discussion of CGEL’s explanation of ‘because’ et al as prepositions here: http://english-jack.blogspot.jp/2007/05/bain-on-prepositions.html

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