[Corpora-List] adverbial 'behind'

Bill Louw louwfirth at yahoo.com
Sun May 30 01:02:31 CEST 2010

Hello all. The line of best fit for unpacking this has nothing to do with grammar or syntax. It is proximity and context of situation. Angus comes closest in my opinion. Firth would have said: ‘one meaning of ‘behind’ is its collocability with shit, bullshit, happen, shooting etc’.The semantic prosody provides the context of situation and the concomitant levels of emotion. Collocation is as Firth says ‘abstracted at the level of syntax’ and has nothing to do with concepts. Angus has collected all of the relevant lines. SP does the rest. Drop the grammar and find the (A) relevant persons personalities (B) relevant objects e.g. guns and (C) the results of the verbal action and other action if you like … prison. All done in 1957 and automated by the corpus. Bill  

--- 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, 7:03 PM

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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