[Corpora-List] adverbial 'behind'

Angus Grieve-Smith grvsmth at panix.com
Sat May 29 19:57:32 CEST 2010

On 5/29/2010 12:57 PM, Jim Fidelholtz wrote:
> Hi, Marc,
> My initial reaction to your question was 'what adverb?', ie, that it
> is a preposition. With a bit more reflection, I'm a bit more convinced
> that it's more of a preposition than an adverb. Cf.
> They lost their daddy behind the barn. (or even: after the
> event, where I would interpret 'after' here as a preposition).
> Actually, such examples seem to me to point out the fuzziness of
> grammatical categories (*especially* where adverbs are concerned, and
> cf. also 'discourse markers', which in their historical development
> seem to progress syntactically in many cases towards adverb-like
> behavior).

Clearly, the prepositional phrase with "behind" is functioning as an adverb in the sentence, much like "behind the barn." But I don't think that's what Marc's really interested in.

Most of the times I've heard it, "behind" has its original sense denoting a place relationship, or extended to Ken's sense of responsibility ("so that's who's behind all those robberies"). In this case, however, it seems to have a general sense of "related to," similar to the way I would use "over."

I'm guessing it's an innovation in the Baltimore dialect of Black English. From a corpus perspective, it turns out that the script to this episode of "The Wire" and many others are available online and searchable. You can find a bunch of other examples. It's hard to find with a keyword search unless you're looking at something that's specific to that dialect, because there are so many other uses of "behind."

From the same episode: "I'm gonna need a tetanus to get behind this bullshit." "Everything else in this country gets sold... without people shooting each other behind it." http://movie.subtitlr.com/subtitle/show/268875

From other episodes, "You just took a real detective off a real case behind your bullshit." http://movie.subtitlr.com/subtitle/show/138236#line531

"You're going to jail behind this shit. - Yes, you are." http://movie.subtitlr.com/subtitle/show/237503#line31

"It's my recollection that a city police got shot behind Mr. Barksdale's business." http://movie.subtitlr.com/subtitle/show/205769#line431

"You still fucked up behind that stickup, man?" http://movie.subtitlr.com/subtitle/show/172760#line51 "I nearly got killed behind this caper, you know?" http://movie.subtitlr.com/subtitle/show/172760#line251 "And I will put a bullet in all you all behind, what happen right now, you heard?" http://movie.subtitlr.com/subtitle/show/172760#line351

Outside of scripts for "The Wire," I was able to find one instance on an Oprah message board:

"was I better of useing herion than drinking at that time behind what happen with the other family" http://www.oprah.com/community/message/976102


-Angus B. Grieve-Smith

grvsmth at panix.com

More information about the Corpora mailing list