Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

It appears to me that the construction "just because… doesn't mean…" isn't used in literature at all. Is its use limited to colloquial speech and informal writing?

Note that while some people seem to be up in arms about this construction, I am not jumping on that bandwagon. I rather side with sober analysis [PDF] than with angry Reddit rants. So, basically, I'm just looking for a quote by Poe or Twain, though I suspect the construction is younger (is it?).

share|improve this question
1  

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I found nothing from Twain or Poe. However, google can help you find usage of this phrase in books sorted by date.

share|improve this answer

I’ve just discovered the wonderful Corpus of Historical American English, and you, dear reader, get see the first fruits of my research there:

Date: 1942
Publication information: Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1970
Title: Along the Street
Author: Struthers Burt

"Just because I've had everything done for me doesn't mean I can't get along without lots of things I've been used to. The only thing I can't face doing without is you. We can manage with what I have. I know we can."

A similar construction from 1914:

Date: 1914
Title: On With Torchy
Author: Ford, Sewell, 1868-1946

… can't give you all the details without pullin' down a subpoena from the Attorney-General's office, and I ain't anxious to crowd Willie Rockefeller, or anybody like that, out of the witness chair. But I can go as far as to state that, as near as I could dope it out, Peter K. was only standin' on his rights, and if only him and Mr. Ellins could have got together for half an hour peaceable-like things could have been squared all around. We needed Groff every tick of the clock, and just because he ain't always polite in statin' his views over the wire wa'n't any first-class reason for us extendin' him an official invitation to go sew his head in a bag. Uh-huh, them was Old Hickory's very words. I stood by while he writes the message. Then I takes it out and shows it to Piddie and grins. You should have seen Piddie's face. He turns the color of green pea soup and gasps. He's got all the fightin' qualities of…

share|improve this answer
    
So, once in dialogue, and once in clearly colloquial prose. –  TRiG May 25 '11 at 12:25

The NOAD reports an example of sentence using just because, and doesn't mean.

because /bəˈkɔz/ /biˈkɔz/
conjunction
for the reason that; since: we did it because we felt it our duty | just because I'm inexperienced doesn't mean that I lack perception.

Simply replacing just because with since would change the sentence to

(*) Since I'm inexperienced doesn't mean that I lack perception.

NOAD reports when a phrase is informal, and it doesn't do it with that sentence.

share|improve this answer
2  
The use of "since" in that second example doesn't sound right to me. I'd be more inclined to say, "My inexperience doesn't mean that I lack perception". –  Steve Melnikoff Aug 20 '10 at 14:08
2  
I tend to agree with Steve. Another nice way would be to replace "just because" with "the fact that": "The fact that I'm inexperienced doesn't mean that I lack perception" –  Jonik Aug 20 '10 at 14:33
2  
Or "simply because" would also be more formal. –  Kosmonaut Aug 20 '10 at 16:01
2  
More specifically, ? means it is awkward/marginal at best, and * means it is definitely ungrammatical. (This is the standard used in linguistics anyway.) –  Kosmonaut Aug 20 '10 at 18:39
2  
@Jonik, The fact that ... is clearly the most "logical" way to say this, if we think that language should be logical. –  TRiG May 25 '11 at 12:27

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.