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Arts & Life

Because language change

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“Because language change.” Is this a sentence? 

On this week’s edition of That’s What They Say, host Rina Miller and University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan discuss the changing use of because and slash.

On Tuesday, an article  in The Atlantic by Megan Garber brought attention to a new usage of because. Because can now be followed by a noun, adjective or gerund like in the phrase, “Because Internet.”  

“Because is traditionally a subordinating conjunction, so it requires a clause after it, as in, ‘I’m late because I was watching videos on YouTube,’” Curzan describes. “Or it can be a compound preposition, like, ‘I’m late because of the traffic.’”  

Today, thanks to the evolution of language on the Internet, people are writing and saying phrases like: “I’m late because YouTube,” “I’m not going out because tired,” or “I’m late because running.”

The usage of slash has changed as well. 

Curzan’s students are using slash in phrases when they’re doing both things at once, “I ran slash walked” and when they describe the thing they should be doing compared to the thing they’re actually doing, “I went to class slash caught up on Game of Thrones”.

However, the most surprising usage of slash is as a conjunction, like the phrase,  “I really love that hotdog place on Liberty Street, slash, can we go there tomorrow?”

“They’re using slash as some kind of conjunction,” Curzan explains. “It means ‘following up on that’ or ‘as an additional note.’”

Read more about the evolution of slash in Curzan’s article on The Chronicle of Education's Lingua Franca blog.

What do you think of the new use of because and slash? Let us know on our Facebook page or on our website.

-Clare Toeniskoetter, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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