[Corpora-List] adverbial 'behind'

Nathan Schneider nathan at cmu.edu
Sat May 29 20:57:41 CEST 2010

I suspect the word 'since' acquired the 'because' meaning in a similar fashion (temporal > causal), though the chronology is unclear (both the temporal and causal senses have early OED attestations).


On Sat, May 29, 2010 at 2:47 PM, E. Bashir <ebashir at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Given all this, it looks like we have a semantic development in this dialect such that behind (spatial) > behind (temporal) > causal connection.
> --- On Sat, 5/29/10, Angus Grieve-Smith <grvsmth at panix.com> wrote:
>> From: Angus Grieve-Smith <grvsmth at panix.com>
>> Subject: Re: [Corpora-List] adverbial 'behind'
>> To: corpora at uib.no
>> Date: Saturday, May 29, 2010, 12:57 PM
>> 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
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