[Corpora-List] adverbial 'behind'

Angus Grieve-Smith grvsmth at panix.com
Sat May 29 21:03:39 CEST 2010

On 5/29/2010 2:47 PM, E. Bashir wrote:
> Given all this, it looks like we have a semantic development in this dialect such that behind (spatial)> behind (temporal)> causal connection.

I agree that it's a causal connection, but I'm guessing that it developed out of the "responsibility" sense, not out of a temporal sense. If it already existed in a temporal sense, we should find things like "coincidentally, he went to jail for another offense behind that stickup," but we don't - yet.

On 5/29/2010 2:09 PM, Marc FRYD wrote:
> Thanks indeed to you all! And point taken about the syntactic status...
> Re the 'behind' (preposition!) use in that particular example, is it
> standard English usage? I ask, because I am not at all familiar with
> it in British English.
> I now understand 'behind' to mean something like 'because' (thanks to
> JC Khalifa, Linda Bawcome, E.Bashir).
> My initial reaction of excitement was frustrated because I thought it
> looked like a case of an elusive aspectual perfective periphrasis
> which I've only found mentioned once in Visser (1973: 2211) who quoted
> the following: "E's behind telling tu Mr. Baker" (1892 Sarah Hewett,
> /Peasant Speech of Devon/, 21). Visser has this meaning the same as
> the perfective "after -ing" periphrasis of Irish English. Having lived
> a number of years in Devon, I must say that I never had the good
> fortune to come across any other occurrence of this particular turn of
> phrase...

This seems to be an independent, but parallel, development from that. It's definitely not standard English, and I don't remember hearing it before. But from the places we've seen it attested (The Wire, Oprah, Michael Vick, "Lajeep" on Urbandictionary), it seems to be centered in African American English. Not the New York dialect, and probably not Chicago, but Mid-Atlantic, and possibly other regions.


-Angus B. Grieve-Smith

grvsmth at panix.com

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