5

There are a handful of articles suggesting that a new preposition has appeared in the form of "because-noun":

Isn't "Because (of)... whatever" a causitive? Causitives are adverbs; in fact they are at very core of "adverbiality." That happened and now this is the result. The only way pre- and post-conditions arise is through a change (read: action) in condition or state. (Temporal consituents are more associated with adverbs, as well.) Prepositional phrases can ornament verbs, but not be inherent to them.

"I am an astronaut because science." = "Science is what made me an astronaut." There is no prepositional context here.

So I submit that there is actually no new "because-noun" grammatical form in American English, only a mildly-interesting economical shortening, like "Nope, he dead."

  • 2
    You might be interested in the Language Log posts "Because syntax" and "The promiscuity of prepositions" – F.E. Feb 10 '14 at 5:52
  • 1
    I don't particularly think that it is being used as a true preposition. Yes, it is serving that purpose grammatically, but I have only seen such phrases as because science or because reasons being used facetiously. Usually the author is deliberately playing at stupidity. Whenever it is used, it is recognized as being incorrect. – Anonym Feb 10 '14 at 6:42
  • 1
    You still don't see the logic? Because. – Kris Feb 10 '14 at 7:19
  • 3
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a peeve. – anongoodnurse Feb 11 '14 at 0:44
  • 2
    By the way, I just performed a rather drastic edit to your question. If you object for any reason please roll it back. I attempted to make it a little less aggressive in hopes of getting a solid answer since I think this is a fancinating question. – MrHen Feb 28 '14 at 16:15
3

I think that David M's Comments explanation ("It probably started as a way of being cute and got out of hand.") is exactly on point. If someone writes

Because donuts.

the phrase amounts to an extreme telescoping of a longer (usually jocular) idea along the lines of

Because donuts are a consideration here—and when donuts are involved, nothing more need be said. I mean, think about it: donuts, for gosh sakes. OMG let's stop talking and get some donuts! Mmmmm, donuts!

This telegraphic style—with its omission of one, several, or many surrounding words—may or may not be linked to Twitter tweeting, but I don't see any necessary connection between the two. The first time I can recall encountering a similar wording involves Patti Smith's 1978 song "Because the Night"; in the full lyrics, the relevant wording turns out to be

Because the night belongs to lovers. Because the night belongs to lust.

etc.; but the title itself was startling and provocative because it stopped at "Because the Night."

Antecedents aside, I don't think there's much point in trying to assign a part-of-speech identity to because in a "Because noun" formulation, since that formulation reduces the underlying idea to a vestigial remnant.

  • This is a fairly good explanation of the phenomenon. But, it was popularized by Twitter. So, it is indelibly linked to it. The truncation may not be exactly due to the character restrictions, but I was making the point that truncation is commonplace when using the service. I will edit to clarify that point. – David M Mar 1 '14 at 0:18
0

I think you are looking for logic where none exists. This is Twitter speak.

You have a few sources listed above to which I'll add this and this.

Twitter limits you to 140 characters, so truncation has become quite popular.  And, as a natural side effect of Twitter and other services like it, language is evolving (i.e. being taken out back and beaten into a bloody pulp until it agrees to say what you tell it to…)

One of the more popular versions of this type of construct is because reasons. As I stated in comments above, this was likely an attempt at humor that caught fire. It was likely born of the brevity that character limits engender, and because of its inherent ironic humor, it rapidly gained in popularity.

I would posit that the internet is actually generating regional dialects all its own. Much as terms from texting like LOL and OMG have broken into public consciousness, these are too.

Additionally, these constructs remind me of the regional dialects of areas like Pittsburgh. Where helper verbs and articles are often truncated. Instead of I need a haircut one might hear I need haircut.

In any case, I don't think the coiners are intentionally using it as a prepositional phrase. I think they are using it because Twitter!

  • So... is it a prepositional phrase? – MrHen Feb 28 '14 at 22:13
  • @MrHen I supposed you could make the argument that it is. But, I would submit that is like asking: Are my 5 year-olds' (I have twins) drawings derivative of DaVinci (e.g. because of the quizzical smiles)? I think that just because something appears to accidentally have become a de novo grammatical form, doesn't make it so. – David M Mar 1 '14 at 0:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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