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November 19, 2013 10:58 AM   Subscribe

English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet. The word "because," in standard English usage, is a subordinating conjunction, which means that it connects two parts of a sentence in which one (the subordinate) explains the other. In that capacity, "because" has two distinct forms. It can be followed either by a finite clause (I'm reading this because [I saw it on the web]) or by a prepositional phrase (I'm reading this because [of the web]). These two forms are, traditionally, the only ones to which "because" lends itself. I mention all that ... because language. Because evolution. Because there is another way to use "because." Linguists are calling it the "prepositional-because." Or the "because-noun."
posted by scody (163 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh my god that BECAUSE REASONS doodle halfway down the page is so wrong and ruins everything.

it is BECAUSE OF REASONS not BECAUSE REASONS
posted by elizardbits at 10:59 AM on November 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


Ugh, dislike no. Because because.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:00 AM on November 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I can haz coronary?
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:00 AM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tumblrspeak will be the death of us all because reasons.
posted by planetesimal at 11:01 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


what's because?
posted by mullacc at 11:02 AM on November 19, 2013


yes, because there was no internets and no internets shorthand before tumblr and now that tumblr exists there is no other internets in the whole world and there never will be again.
posted by elizardbits at 11:03 AM on November 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


Tumblrspeak will be the death of us all because reasons.

Ironically, that is one example of because-nouning I absolutely love, as it's both perfect for making fun of the authoritarian, and for using when you know something is right but can't verbalize the justification right away.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:03 AM on November 19, 2013 [30 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I'm seen "because reasons." I agree that "because of reasons" is the earlier construction, but "because reasons" seems like a plausible back-formation.
posted by Sokka shot first at 11:04 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, I'm like, why can't they just leave the language alone? and they're like, because, that's why, and I'm like, well fuckit, and they're like, get real, and I'm like, OMG, and they're like LOL.
posted by mule98J at 11:04 AM on November 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


'Because reasons' is canonical now because said so.
posted by Mister_A at 11:04 AM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


The first place I saw "because reasons" was here on Metafilter. I wonder how much we contributed to its popularity.
posted by Melismata at 11:05 AM on November 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


*sigh* Once upon a time this would have been blamed on LJ.

*pours one out for LJ*
posted by kmz at 11:05 AM on November 19, 2013 [28 favorites]


So now that it is a preposition, you can end a sentence with because.
posted by griphus at 11:05 AM on November 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


The LOLCATS win another one.

We've made too many compromises already, too many retreats. They invade our space, and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds, and we fall back...
posted by bicyclefish at 11:06 AM on November 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


I say "because reasons" all the time. Language changes.
posted by kyrademon at 11:06 AM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Someone asked about this recently on the green.
posted by various at 11:06 AM on November 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


planetesimal: Tumblrspeak will be the death of us all because reasons.

I told a kid that he just said a made up word.
"All words are made up at first."

posted by filthy light thief at 11:07 AM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow because

So grammar

Much new
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:07 AM on November 19, 2013 [83 favorites]


it is BECAUSE OF REASONS not BECAUSE REASONS

Terrible rage-face meme doodle aside, I have to vote for 'because reasons' since that's the one I see far more often and it fits with the rest of the convention of 'because [noun]' not 'because of [noun]'.
posted by komara at 11:08 AM on November 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I can't brain this.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:11 AM on November 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


Right but that specific meme image is from an actual comic in which the actual phrase is actually "because of reasons".
posted by elizardbits at 11:12 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why?

Because.
posted by eriko at 11:14 AM on November 19, 2013


But I think it's probably going to be OK. Because change.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:15 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because Joss Whedon.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:16 AM on November 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


Can I be okay with this construction and change but still have a problem with it being called a preposition? Because that.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:16 AM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


"exceptionally bloggy and aggressively casual and implicitly ironic"
Someone's got a new tagline!
posted by redsparkler at 11:17 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's OK everyone because descriptivism.
posted by Mister_A at 11:18 AM on November 19, 2013 [40 favorites]


Right but that specific meme image is from an actual comic in which the actual phrase is actually "because of reasons".

Clearly not, because as you can see it says right there "because reasons". I mean I don't even know what we're arguing about at this point. LOL U MAD etc.
posted by komara at 11:18 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, the following 'Because reasons' is canonical now because said so. is still agrammatical.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 11:18 AM on November 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm okay with this; I had a running shirt made that says "I run because cookies" on the back.
posted by Mooski at 11:19 AM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love when people get all flustered about language and how You're Doing It Wrong...I was thinking about the evolution of language the other day, about how the internet, with all of its science, should be formalizing and homogenizing all language into its 'final form', but in fact the opposite has been happening, with all kinds of new slang and constructions, much the way Latin became Italian.
That's when I had the epiphany: All words in all languages were slang when they first started out. Because people.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:19 AM on November 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


because of reasons
posted by elizardbits at 11:20 AM on November 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I should really get to work on that Great American Novel written entirely in greentext while this internetspeak stuff is still hot, before Google Glass takes off and we're all talking to each other with eyeball spasms.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:21 AM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can haz munchkin grammmarz?
posted by lalochezia at 11:21 AM on November 19, 2013


Metafilter: we're all talking to each other with eyeball spasms.
posted by lalochezia at 11:22 AM on November 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


The best revenge is that usage will continue to change to something else beyond this and all the smug because-x-ers will be cranky; this will happen about the time they're in their late 40s to early 50s.
posted by aught at 11:22 AM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


...before Google Glass takes off and we're all talking to each other with eyeball spasms.

ಠ_ಠ
posted by griphus at 11:22 AM on November 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


like the one they used in the article is the equivalent of receiving a birthday card from your great aunt 3 years from now with an alien on it that says HEEEY LAMO
posted by elizardbits at 11:22 AM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is "...I said so" no longer acceptable?
posted by she's not there at 11:22 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


[LIKE]
posted by entropicamericana at 11:22 AM on November 19, 2013


How is beccase formed?
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:22 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter is still the only place I've ever seen this.
posted by deadwax at 11:23 AM on November 19, 2013


Because lame.
posted by Mister_A at 11:23 AM on November 19, 2013


BOO-YAH!
posted by Mister_A at 11:24 AM on November 19, 2013


HEEEY LAMO

There now we can all have it stuck in our heads like I do.
posted by griphus at 11:25 AM on November 19, 2013


I'm usually a raging prescriptivist when an observed change to the language reduces its clarity or expressiveness (e.g. the word "literally" becoming literally useless), and a moderate prescriptivist when an observed change to the language makes it needlessly more complicated (e.g. "viruses" -> "virii"), but I'm pretty sure the first problem isn't the case here and I don't see how the second problem might be occuring either. Am I missing anything?
posted by roystgnr at 11:26 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


There now we can all have it stuck in our heads like I do.

Some of us live with it in our heads at all time.

And we're just fine with that.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:26 AM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


The older I get, the less and less I even comprehend why some people get whipped into a frothy rage about new or unfamiliar grammatical constructions that have a perfectly obvious contextual meaning. (Even though I was actually raised to have a similar reaction. I am the child of an English professor; I can grammar at you. I can grammar at you so hard.)

It's not like this is incomprehensible jargon or weird slang or something. It communicates meaning, which is the purpose of language. So why does anyone care? The language was far from being totally internally consistent before "because reasons" came in and messed everything up somehow.

In conclusion, Pluto is no longer a planet, no one wants to buy your comic books, and glass is not a slow-moving liquid. Because reasons.
posted by kyrademon at 11:29 AM on November 19, 2013 [47 favorites]


Wonkette more or less pioneered this usage. When you first see it deployed, it's funny because of that little shock of 'bad' but understandable grammar, the intentional elision, and if done right, the slightly unexpected word that follows the 'because.'

I don't know if its overuse everywhere actually means it has transcended 'bad' grammar and become 'correct' grammar though.

I think it is still consciously used as 'bad' grammar by everyone who uses it, all of them trying for the little funny shock that it delivers. Isn't there a difference there, even for grammar non-prescriptivists?
posted by jackbrown at 11:34 AM on November 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


I am fine with "because reasons" but the next person to offer me a "kudo", as if that was a singular form of "kudos", is going to get cut.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 11:36 AM on November 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


The older I get,

Because overexposure and hip and apparently sloppy. Thus Matt Groening's Life in Hell Forbidden Words lists.

Myself, I think I'm going to stop using it.

Just because.

(On preview, what jackbrown said fancier.)

I am fine with "because reasons" but the next person to offer me a "kudo", as if that was a singular form of "kudos", is going to get cut.

Surely only the hoi polloi do that.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:36 AM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wonder if this is because 'cause fuck him, that's why.
posted by Anything at 11:36 AM on November 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Because, Becausalo, Becausaflo, Beffalo, Buffalo, Buffalo, Buffalo
posted by blue_beetle at 11:38 AM on November 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


(e.g. "viruses" -> "virii")

Wait, does anyone who has any kind of actual education in biology or CS actually use "virii"?
posted by aught at 11:38 AM on November 19, 2013


the next person to offer me a "kudo", as if that was a singular form of "kudos", is going to get cut.

Lucky you. I only get half a kudo.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:40 AM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


This seems like the proper place for me to finally bitch about the modern use of the word "thing."

"Thing" is a noun that is generally used to describe an entity that is unknown ("What is that thing on the bottom of my shoe?") or to refer to inanimate objects (referring to a chair, "Put that thing over there.").

It is now used largely in place of the word "trend" or "fad." People say, "Is bowling naked a 'thing' now?" They are really saying, "Is this use of because a 'trend/fad/popular' now?" It is, simply, very lazy use of language. It is unnecessary. I understand that language evolves and that meanings of words can change. However, it seems to me that replacing specific words that have specific meanings (trend, fad, etc.) with words that are less specific (thing) is just incredibly lazy. It makes language less specific and meaningful.

If I type, "The button on the keyboard of my computer that controls the left arrow has become very popular" has become, "The button on the keyboard of my computer that controls the left arrow has become a thing." What is to stop that from becoming, "The thing on the thing of my thing that controls the thing has become a thing." After all, they are technically "things."
posted by flarbuse at 11:41 AM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just learned from Ask Metafilter that "because fuck you" dates back to 1987.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:42 AM on November 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


Speaking of language I'm just going to leave this here because I don't feel like making it into an FPP.
posted by bilabial at 11:42 AM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't know. This doesn't seem to turn "because" into a preposition, it turns the following phrase into a noun which is representative of the following phrase, but doesn't change the part of speech of because at all. "Because" ("Reasons" --> "(I/You/They) have strange ideas.").

And, on preview, yeah, most people use it as a shorthand reference to the meme... this is possibly another case of people treating anything written anywhere as needing to be slotted someway, somehow into the accepted linguistic taxonomy.
posted by smidgen at 11:42 AM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thanks so much for posting this! I've been very interested in this construction since I first started seeing it a few years ago and have wondered about its origin and spread. I think Atrios was the first heavy adopter I noticed.
posted by Auden at 11:43 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Question: do people actually use this in RL? Or is it only an online thing? Because never heard it.
posted by sutt at 11:43 AM on November 19, 2013


Question: do people actually use this in RL?

Wait what do MeFi meetups count as?
posted by griphus at 11:44 AM on November 19, 2013


Thanks so much for posting this! I'm been very interested in this construction since I first started seeing it a few years ago and have wondered about its origin and spread. I think Atrios was the first heavy adopter I noticed.
posted by Auden at 2:43 PM on November 19 [+] [!]


Just don't start using it in your poems.
posted by aught at 11:44 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yea, I've heard it, in fact this is one of those rare things that works better in RL (where you can supply the appropriate emphasis) than written. :-)
posted by smidgen at 11:45 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh hell no.

It's not intended as valid grammar. It is a joke that depends on the grammar being incorrect. It implies that you are ending discussion abruptly with a trump card so powerful (or when imitating someone else mockingly, the assumption of power in the trump card is unjustified) that you don't even need to complete the sentence.
posted by the jam at 11:45 AM on November 19, 2013 [54 favorites]


What is to stop that from becoming, "The thing on the thing of my thing that controls the thing has become a thing."

You can do this easily in Russian and have the sentence make perfect sense. But "thing" is not the word one generally uses.
posted by griphus at 11:46 AM on November 19, 2013


i was gonna say is the word pizda
posted by elizardbits at 11:48 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've always thought of it as constructing a sentence as if choosing from a menu if items. Like:

Select the reason you can't attend this meeting.

[] Conflict
[] Stupid topic
[] Stupid people
[x] Napping

------> I can't attend the meeting because napping.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:49 AM on November 19, 2013 [21 favorites]


Because overexposure and hip and apparently sloppy.

Maybe. I still wince when I see a grocer's apostrophe or incorrect usage of its/it's, and it doesn't matter if I have my official editor's hat on or not. Those things are so prevalent now though that I also find myself occasionally adopting them and I don't mean ironically. When I do and it's too late to correct them, I die a little inside.

"Because reasons" is perfectly cromulent to me, though I would not let its use go unremarked in a doc I edit for work, and I would lift an eyebrow if someone I didn't know used it in an email to me.
posted by rtha at 11:50 AM on November 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


So, people will be prescriptivist over the most unimportant things because reasons.
posted by planetesimal at 11:50 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Akshully, I've always felt that "reasons" as a single word stands in for whatever concept is being invoked or parodied, it's more of a shorthand mimicking the use of a programming variable. Because $CONCEPT. Because $BELIEF. Because $PREJUDICE. Because $_ISM.

Because REASONS.
posted by tigrrrlily at 11:50 AM on November 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Kinda like what stupidsexyFlanders is saying.
posted by tigrrrlily at 11:51 AM on November 19, 2013


And now I know the word pizda. Huh.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 11:53 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love new slang, except for the part where being a scary old person makes me look creepy and weird if I use it around youngsters. Like when your grandma says "LOL". It's just wrong.

Actually,hanging out on Tumblr is a lot like lurking around a middle-school dance, for me. I try to be inconspicuous and not let on that I am interested in their conversation, because I don't want to scare them.
posted by emjaybee at 11:54 AM on November 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Because-nouning is very popular among my online and RL feminist friends, partly for Twitter brevity and partly for snark. Example: you can describe & eyeroll at an entire ancient dead-horse argument with a mere "Reddit says blah blah because MISANDRY."
posted by nicebookrack at 11:56 AM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you don't want it to sound like a joke you can say "due to" and have the same general meaning.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:58 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


haha you said doodoo
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 11:59 AM on November 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


Once upon a time in the long ago (middle 1980s), my older sister was on a visit home from college with her boyfriend. We were hanging out watching tv, and Charlie's Angels came on. Out of pure inertia, no one suggested changing the channel, so we watched for a while. As it got increasingly inane, my sister says "why are we even watching this?" Her boyfriend looks at the screen; it is a poolside scene featuring the angels in bikinis. Without missing a beat he says "Oh, I can think of some reasons. Six reasons to be exact."

So, the phrase "because reasons" has a very specific meaning for me.
posted by fikri at 12:00 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow

Such argument

Very grammatical

Words and things
posted by The Whelk at 12:01 PM on November 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


hm, aught...

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on because monthly sales quotas.
posted by Auden at 12:01 PM on November 19, 2013 [15 favorites]


I use "because reasons" both in writing and in conversation. Usually it's to mock a decisionmaking process that boils down to "I have a strong opinion, and the more strongly I express it, the more factual it is".

I think of it as roughly equivalent to the "and then a miracle occurs" part of this comic.
posted by scrump at 12:02 PM on November 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's not like this is incomprehensible jargon or weird slang or something. It communicates meaning, which is the purpose of language. So why does anyone care?

I think the honest answer is that stuff like this functions as an in-group/out-group marker. (Most sociolinguistic variables are: I mean, speaking conservatively just marks you as being "in" on a different group.) And when people find themselves on the outside, they get annoyed.

For some people it's true even if the in-group they're being excluded from isn't really one they would have wanted to belong to anyway — like "Fine, I didn't want to be part of your club anyway, but you don't have to rub it in my face that I'm not invited." And for those people, one way that can express itself is as linguistic peevishness. You don't exactly want to be younger* than you are. But you're still somehow irritated that those damn kids have adopted a way of talking that excludes you.

*Or "poorer," or "less white," or "less conventionally masculine," or "less suburban," or etcetera.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 12:02 PM on November 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's not intended as valid grammar. It is a joke that depends on the grammar being incorrect.

This is exactly right. I doubt this construction will be able to exist on its own, as form of language that isn't commenting on (or swept up in the general trend of commenting on) something else.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 12:04 PM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Because, because. Because of the wonderful things she does.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:04 PM on November 19, 2013


Because of reasons makes no sense. The comic is late to the game and wrong.

If I don't have the time or see the need to state the reasons, why would I dither around with "of"?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 12:06 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Question: do people actually use this in RL? Or is it only an online thing? Because never heard it.

Whenever I've heard such a thing spoken it always sounds like, "because...REASONS!". The speaker is seeking some reason to add as a clause to complete the sentence, but the break cancels out the need to be grammatical and the following noun is simply thrown in once found.
posted by Thing at 12:08 PM on November 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Is the because-noun related to the locution "because of course he/she/it does/is"? As in, "Toronto Mayor Rob Ford knocked over Councilwoman Pam McConnell during a vote to strip him of his powers because of course he did." It has the same abrupt shift in voice as "because reasons" and the like, and is useful in all kinds of situations--like, say, yesterday in Toronto.
posted by Cash4Lead at 12:08 PM on November 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


My favorite thing about this thread: We're talking about the possibility of a jocular bit of deliberate wrongness becoming an unquestioned part of the language. Several people react to this possibility by saying they're "okay" with it.
posted by baf at 12:09 PM on November 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's OK. Unless consequences. Although qualifications.
posted by Segundus at 12:15 PM on November 19, 2013 [19 favorites]


My first encounter with this was in Cleolinda Jones' "Prometheus In 15 Minutes", which appears to use it as shorthand for "this makes no sense, but nobody cares".
posted by scrump at 12:17 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because the age of reasons.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:17 PM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm slowly coming to terms with "recommend me a [thing]," so I guess I'll do the same here.
posted by BurntHombre at 12:18 PM on November 19, 2013


It's OK everyone because descriptivism.

Whoever says descriptivism approves or dissapproves of a usage has a bridge to sell you.

Which is fine. No one says that but angry prescriptivists.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:18 PM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Angry Prescriptivists is my favorite game.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:20 PM on November 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Because implied colon.
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:21 PM on November 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Angry Prescriptivists is my favorite game.

It's fun to throw 'em against concepts they can neither understand nor knock down.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:22 PM on November 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


It's wrong, because prescriptivism.

/Am I doing it right?
posted by benito.strauss at 12:23 PM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Welp, we'll need to accept the "couple-adjective-preposition" too: "couple dozen", "couple hundred."
posted by drowsy at 12:23 PM on November 19, 2013


Is this the thread where I say "because things" because Metafilter?
posted by k8lin at 12:24 PM on November 19, 2013


I guess I better just get used to this.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 12:26 PM on November 19, 2013


Metafilter: Because things.
posted by Twain Device at 12:26 PM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bonus! You now have the power of the Chicago Manual of Style. Next prize: OED.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:28 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


18 months or so of trendy usage on the Internet seems a little light as a basis for saying this is canonical
posted by thelonius at 12:28 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suggest that the "because" sometimes functions like a hashtag, or vice versa.
posted by kewb at 12:39 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


flarbuse: What is to stop that from becoming, "The thing on the thing of my thing that controls the thing has become a thing." After all, they are technically "things."

Because communication.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:43 PM on November 19, 2013


I can't see this being used in everyday speech without some kind of pause or significant look between "because" and "noun", the kind of thing that Bill Maher might do. But what do I know, I remember years ago when a clerk at Circuit City said "ZOMG" spelled out when I was looking at Zunes. (Because old.)

I think the thing with "because/noun" is that it's difficult to use well, you need to have the necessary irony and meta-understand of the subject and it should to be shared with your listener, and it needs to be a categorical level of abstraction that captures the complex or phenomenon that you want to roll into an ironic ball. "Because napping" doesn't really capture the awesome power of the construction. I think one of the reasons that Atrios uses it (and uses it well) is that he can capture complexity and stupid tired memes succinctly by saying stuff like BECAUSE AMERICA to make his points.
posted by Auden at 12:44 PM on November 19, 2013


The original comic is about butts. Elizardbits is surely right about the necessity of "of". Because butts!
posted by straight at 12:45 PM on November 19, 2013


(e.g. "viruses" -> "virii")

Wait, does anyone who has any kind of actual education in biology or CS actually use "virii"?


I should hope not. First, "virii" would be the plural of a non-existent Latin noun, "virius" (although Virius is a name). "Viri" would be the plural of "vir" (man) as in "doctissimi viri". In Latin, "virus" (poison) was not a countable noun, like "milk" or "oxygen", so we have no attested plural of it.

People say "viri/virii" because hypercorrection.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:47 PM on November 19, 2013 [18 favorites]


I was going to say that at least I don't use constructions like this out loud but then I realized it's because I hardly ever to talk to anyone, so perhaps this isn't something to brag about.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:08 PM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


slippery butts, even!
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:09 PM on November 19, 2013


Clearly Metafilter doesn't do new prepositions well, modulo the appeasement of nerdrage.
posted by psoas at 1:14 PM on November 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


EPIC!
Awesome!
I sobbing.
posted by NorthernLite at 1:18 PM on November 19, 2013


Remember the good old days when human beings sat around in caves grunting at each other and hitting each other with sticks?

Well I hope you liked it because we are rapidly heading back there. The prepositional-because people can take care of the grunting, and I will take care of the 'hitting with sticks'.
posted by ryanfou at 1:18 PM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Remember the good old days when human beings sat around in caves grunting at each other and hitting each other with sticks?

Verily!
posted by griphus at 1:22 PM on November 19, 2013


It's also okay to boldly split infinitives because Star Trek.
posted by Mister_A at 1:23 PM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I should hope not. First, "virii" would be the plural of a non-existent Latin noun, "virius" (although Virius is a name). "Viri" would be the plural of "vir" (man) as in "doctissimi viri". In Latin, "virus" (poison) was not a countable noun, like "milk" or "oxygen", so we have no attested plural of it.


Maybe it could be understood contextually? Look at this entry.
posted by ChuckRamone at 1:24 PM on November 19, 2013


Remember the good old days when human beings sat around in caves grunting at each other and hitting each other with sticks?

Well I hope you liked it because we are rapidly heading back there. The prepositional-because people can take care of the grunting, and I will take care of the 'hitting with sticks'.


I know this is exaggerated for humorous effect, but the sentiment seems sincere, so: Dude. Chill. It's gonna be all right. We'll understand each other tomorrow about as well as we do today.

EPIC!
Awesome!
I sobbing.


I think you'd like this post.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:25 PM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


See, that's why people find it fun and clever, because it's "wrong." It's an unusual kind of grammatical innovation, and that's why people enjoy using it. It feels silly to use.

That's one way slang comes into existence, by taking something that makes sense and making it into something that doesn't make sense but you understand it anyway and therefore it makes a new kind of sense.

You all understand that. You're good people. This guy right here understands it. He's good people.
posted by edheil at 1:26 PM on November 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's just no need for virii. Viruses was working (and, I suspect, will continue to work) just fine.
posted by Mister_A at 1:26 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


This version of "because" is also interesting because it has properties governed by its object, and relies on inferences about the relationship between the object of the preposition and the rest of the sentence. Sometimes it means "due to" or "as a result of," sometimes it means "for the purpose of," and sometimes it even replaces an entire independent clause ("because napping," above, means something like "because I am napping."

In other words, it relies very heavily not only on context but also on inferences from "standard" usage. To the extent that it works, it works for populations who are already familiar with standard usage. It seems to me to require a kind of super-fluency in multiple Englishes.

This may be why it seems to function only ironically in real usage. "Because-noun" relies on doubleness, on the communicants' knowledge of the English "because-noun" purports to replace. It's a bit like thieves' cant or rhyming slang in that regard.
posted by kewb at 1:26 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


If "because" is also classed as a preposition now, can you form long prepositional phrases with it, such as "Because tasty and good mouthfeel cronuts, everything is okay with the world"?
posted by ChuckRamone at 1:27 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have to say, I like this usage, because clever ellipsis.

Which is also why I wouldn't call it a new preposition.
posted by ambrosen at 1:32 PM on November 19, 2013


Just wait until that "your" usage we all love becomes part of the language. It's language. Language changes. I don't really care about because reasons, but what tweaks my brain is "all told" rather than "all tolled" and "untracked" rather than "on track". We're headed for a strange and new place, folks, believe it. If you're still alive in 2050, you're going to be just as bewildered and feeble then as many elderly folks are today. I always laugh when I can have conversations right in front of people who also speak English, and know that they are only getting tiny bits of the meaning. Or really when I do it or friends do it without even realizing it. Things that can't even be typed because there aren't symbols to accurately convey the sound and meaning. It's kind of awesome.
posted by cashman at 1:32 PM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh hell no.

It's not intended as valid grammar. It is a joke that depends on the grammar being incorrect.


I've long stopped using it as a "joke" and have incorporated it into a natural part of my speech, as I suspect others have or will, too. Who cares how it's "intended"? It's a great shorthand. And shorthand is just fine, imho.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:35 PM on November 19, 2013


ok so maybe I'm missing something here.

it still seems like a conjunction to me. What's changed is not the "because" but rather the verb phrase.

for example, "I didn't walk down the alley because hobos" would be an example of the new usage. But, the full phrase would be "I didn't walk down the alley because hobos frighten me" or more simply "because hobos exist."

So the new use of language is not that we are using "Because" differently, but rather we turning extra information into an assumption, same as the "assumed you" in command phrases.

Furthermore, I wonder how valid my theory is that you could add an "exists" to the majority of "Because X" phrases, and have them be "grammatical" "again" (because pedants).
posted by rebent at 1:42 PM on November 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


I became consciously aware of this phenomenon from a Metafilter post a month ago or so. Can't remember the topic, but I do remember the parenthetical warning: "(NSFW because dildos)". Which got me sniggering out loud at work and some strange looks.

Metafilter: NSFW because dildos.
posted by zardoz at 1:46 PM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've never done it before. Can I try it now? Ok, here goes. Yep. Just gotta think of something. Ok, got it. Ok ok, just taking a moment to get my nerve up. Hold on.
posted by newdaddy at 1:54 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is now used largely in place of the word "trend" or "fad." People say, "Is bowling naked a 'thing' now?" They are really saying, "Is this use of because a 'trend/fad/popular' now?"

That's not really what it means, though. It's about recognition, not popularity. If I say "Fancy doughnuts are a trend right now" (and long may it last) I mean that they're suddenly very popular. But even if there was only one naked bowling club in America, I think you could still consider it a "thing" as long as enough people had heard of it. If I ask "Is X a thing now?" what I mean is "Do [some] people now recognize X as a coherent concept, rather than something that needs to be explained every time it's mentioned?" "A thing" is actually kind of an elegant way of expressing this, since it refers to the coherence part, which I think is the essence of the idea.
posted by ostro at 1:57 PM on November 19, 2013 [15 favorites]


If ever, oh ever a wiz there was, The Wizard of Oz is one because
Because, because, because, because, because
Because wonderful things does

posted by panaceanot at 2:06 PM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I believe people are transcribing "because ____" incorrectly. What they meant to write was "because...____!" It is not "because math", "because science", "because fun". When I read it, I hear them saying, "It's wonderful. Because....math!" If presented this way, there is no need for a new preposition, only ellipses.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 2:06 PM on November 19, 2013


I definitely read/say it without an ellipsis and as a continuous statement.
posted by griphus at 2:12 PM on November 19, 2013


The danger is that this casual satirical argument-ending statement becomes casually used non-satirically.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:13 PM on November 19, 2013


Because....math! If presented this way, there is no need for a new preposition, only ellipses.

But there is no "missing" word -- the reason "because reasons" is funny is because it's unexpected.

It is literally ironic.

(I quiver with antici...pation about that particular sentence.)
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:23 PM on November 19, 2013


My favorite tumblr grammar is the useage of the verb "can", as in "I can not CAN anymore?"

Following that logic, you can quite reasonably say on Tumblr "i am out of CAN" in the tags.
posted by lineofsight at 2:34 PM on November 19, 2013


It's also okay to boldly split infinitives because Star Trek.

Or because English. It's a real language now and not just a corrupt version of Latin where infinitives are always a single word and it's un-fucking-grammatical to put modifiers in the middle of words.
posted by straight at 2:34 PM on November 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


What they meant to write was "because...____!"

I disagree fully and wholeheartedly. If I say these things aloud there is no difference in enunciation between:

"I have to go to the ATM because I forgot to get money earlier like we agreed upon"
and
"I have to go to the ATM because dumb."

and therefore I write them the same way. It is as Celsius1414 said: the humor is in that it is not an exaggerated comic statement where you telegraph and then throw out a big ol' punchline. I think that's why I find it interesting and find myself prone to using it. It's not deadpan, really, because I'm not saying something outrageous that I'm trying to mask or slip under the radar. It's not sarcasm because it's real: I am dumb, I did forget the thing. It's said naturally but brokenly and therein lies the humor.

It is not the red circle of "funny" fwd: images.
posted by komara at 2:50 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Your argument is invalid.

I don't have any argument of my own and have not had the time to read the whole thread, but all of your arguments are still invalid.
posted by fatehunter at 3:02 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because reasons has its reasons which reason can never know.
posted by jamjam at 3:29 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Congratulations on your discovery of a new preposition!

I recently discovered two new pronouns: "shit" and "f*ck"
And if you don't agree that those are pronouns, then you don't know shit about language!
posted by sour cream at 3:42 PM on November 19, 2013


It is possible to understand that language changes over time, enjoy many of those changes including slang and silliness, and still think specific changes sound stupid. You don’t have to be all in or out, regardless of what the internet would have you believe.
posted by bongo_x at 4:04 PM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


When my little sister was wee, and she couldn't formulate a reason why a thing was so, or should be so, she'd say, "...'cause because." Or, more like, "cuz beCUZ!" I'm going to start using that more, I think.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 4:09 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know this has crept into my speech. I am pretty sure I used it in storytime this week. I think I used the phrase "because babies" while predicting the chaos that was going to ensue after I handed out the jingle bells.
As for "things," I picked up "because that's a thing now" somewhere. I hear myself say it all the time. "Did you hear about Kanye wearing the Confederate flag, because that's a thing now." I don't know where I picked it up.
posted by Biblio at 4:49 PM on November 19, 2013


This seems like the proper place for me to finally bitch about the modern use of the word "thing."

I wish I had a thousand favorite to give your comment.

It's about recognition, not popularity. If I say "Fancy doughnuts are a trend right now" (and long may it last) I mean that they're suddenly very popular. But even if there was only one naked bowling club in America, I think you could still consider it a "thing" as long as enough people had heard of it. If I ask "Is X a thing now?" what I mean is "Do [some] people now recognize X as a coherent concept, rather than something that needs to be explained every time it's mentioned?" "A thing" is actually kind of an elegant way of expressing this, since it refers to the coherence part, which I think is the essence of the idea.

Please, no. On this website alone, I have read seat belts and ranch dressing referred to as "things" in this sense.

"Thing" is on my shit list right next to "-y" as in "this makes me feel stabby" or "you are fighty". Welcome to Romper Room.
posted by Tanizaki at 5:55 PM on November 19, 2013


Someone's cranky.
posted by griphus at 5:56 PM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


He has feels about all the things!
posted by rtha at 6:15 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is only one neologism that is wrong: "I couldn't care less".

David Mitchell explains here.
posted by recursion at 6:17 PM on November 19, 2013


sigh... I meant "I could care less". That one is just wrong.
posted by recursion at 6:18 PM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I need to know how to diagram this type of sentence because 6th grade.
posted by unixrat at 7:43 PM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I recently discovered two new pronouns: "shit" and "f*ck"

I can see how "shit" works as a pronoun: because shit is fucked up and bullshit. But i need an example of a fuck pronoun, because, well, you know.
posted by misfish at 7:55 PM on November 19, 2013


It is possible to understand that language changes over time, enjoy many of those changes including slang and silliness, and still think specific changes sound stupid.

But what is generally not possible is to halt the adoption of such changes on the grounds that you think they sound stupid.
posted by straight at 8:39 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


"(e.g. "viruses" -> "virii")

Wait, does anyone who has any kind of actual education in biology or CS actually use "virii"?
posted by aught at 2:38 PM on November 19 "

In response, having an actual education in the biosciences, no. But I did have a somewhat existential debate with myself the other day concerning 'serum', 'sera', 'bacterium', 'bacteria', 'plasma', and why there is no 'plasmum'. Also why is it SO hard to keep straight the usage of sera v. serum. Really, I have the whole actual education.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:52 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because was a joke.

Now it's good to go.
posted by mule98J at 10:51 PM on November 19, 2013


mullacc: what's because?

Twenty dollars, same as in town. Because meme.
posted by bryon at 10:58 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


> "But i need an example of a fuck pronoun, because, well, you know."

The fuck are you talking about?

Interrogative pronoun. Easy.
posted by kyrademon at 12:50 AM on November 20, 2013


But I did have a somewhat existential debate with myself the other day concerning 'serum', 'sera', 'bacterium', 'bacteria', 'plasma', and why there is no 'plasmum'.

I will tell you the reason. Serum/sera and bacterium/bacteria are Latin and New Latin, respectively. Plasma, on the other hand, is a Greek singular noun, the plural of which would be "plasmata" (Greek nouns ending in "-ma" are pluralized by adding "-ta"; you might be more familiar with stigma/stigmata).

Please do not use "plasmata" in English.
posted by Tanizaki at 4:40 AM on November 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


and for using when you know something is right but can't verbalize the justification right away.

I am lying to you.
- your brain
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:44 AM on November 20, 2013


I know this has crept into my speech. I am pretty sure I used it in storytime this week. I think I used the phrase "because babies" while predicting the chaos that was going to ensue after I handed out the jingle bells.

Cartoonist David Willis has "That's so babies," as a catchphrase his characters use occasionally.
posted by emjaybee at 7:24 AM on November 20, 2013


I just want to know what Kory Stamper thinks of this change.
posted by drewbage1847 at 8:10 AM on November 20, 2013


But I did have a somewhat existential debate with myself the other day concerning 'serum', 'sera', 'bacterium', 'bacteria', 'plasma', and why there is no 'plasmum'.

I will tell you the reason. Serum/sera and bacterium/bacteria are Latin and New Latin, respectively. Plasma, on the other hand, is a Greek singular noun, the plural of which would be "plasmata" (Greek nouns ending in "-ma" are pluralized by adding "-ta"; you might be more familiar with stigma/stigmata).

Please do not use "plasmata" in English.
--Tanizaki

Why not? I'd never heard it, but I like the sound of it. I'll have to remember that one. It is like "octopedes", another Greek plural. I wonder if there's a way we can convince physicists and doctors to start using "plasmata".
posted by eye of newt at 9:43 PM on November 20, 2013


Why not?

Because it's affected. More to the point, you don't need to know Greek (or any other language) to speak English.

I wonder if there's a way we can convince physicists and doctors to start using "plasmata".

Probably not.
posted by Tanizaki at 4:42 AM on November 21, 2013


I propose a new word for it: becuase. No, that isn't a typo. :/
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 8:02 PM on November 23, 2013


Tanizaki : "Because it's affected."

Nah, it's fun. I'm now going to be biding my time, waiting for an opportunity to visit a veterinary hospital so I can find an excuse to look at a fridge or freezer containing blood products from animals of different species and say, "My goodness, you have a lot of plasmata here!"
posted by Lexica at 10:50 AM on November 24, 2013


Tanizaki, I have been sharing my new understanding of blood product nomenclature all week, and everyone I've told has been thrilled to finally understand, as I was. And then their next question is always, 'Why can't I say "plasmata"'? I think it might catch on in my lab....
posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:54 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


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