Just Because Doesnt Mean Construction

1. General

1.1. Label

Just because...doesn’t mean... Construction (in the following JB-X DM-Y (see Bender and Kathol 2001)).

1.2. Reasons for construction status

The JB-X DM-Y sentence pattern gets its construction status because it differs from normal English grammar through both certain syntactic and semantic properties.

Standard because-clauses in English are ambiguous because they can be interpreted as carrying both causal and inferential meaning (see Bender and Kathol 2001). When the main clause of such sentences is negated, another ambiguity occurs due to the scope of the negation and the common cause/inference ambiguity. Narrow scope negation (i.e. only the main clause is negated) only allows for the causal reading while wide scope negation makes both cause denial as well as inference denial possible. The same holds true for just because reason clauses, but when the reason clause takes the sentence-initial position, the two types behave differently. While simple because clauses do in that case only allow for a narrow scope reading of the negation, “preposed just because clauses continue to allow for both a narrow and a wide scope construal of the negation. However, now the wide scope negation only allows for the inference denial interpretation” (Bender and Kathol 2001).

Therefore, initial just because clauses behave in a way which is not licensed by ordinary grammar rules and accordingly, they have to be seen as being licensed by a construction “which calls for a just because adjunct preceding a negated main clause, and specifies that the negation in the main clause should take scope over the adjunct.” (Bender and Kathol 2001)

Short statement on reason for construction status: Preservation of inference denial reading despite the preposing of JB-X argues for a constructional analysis of JB-X DM-Y (Bender and Kathol 2001).

1.3. Examples

  1. Cain had best forget this one http://www.fannation.com/articles/show/1173388 (18.09.2007)
  2. Your body had best be good http://unclebarky.com/abovethefold_files/e059c6d369465e252d218c69d704984c-476.html (18.09.2007)
  3. You had best bring a raincoat in this weather. http://www.yourdictionary.com/ahd/h/h0086500.html (18.09.2007)

2. Language Information


Spoken and written English

2.2. Language


2.3. Variety

Widely used in spoken and written English regardless of geographic or social parametres. The supposed subtype JBo-X DM-Y seems to be more of a substandard expression (see Kanetani).

2.4. Speech Community

No particular speech community.

2.5. Language Contact

The development of the construction does not seem to have been influenced or triggered directly by a similar construction from a different language.

2.6. Time Period

According to Hilpert (2007), the first documented usage of the JB-X DM-Y construction can be traced back to the 19th century. The construction seems to have evolved from ‘a regular hypotactic (subordinate) construction’ (Hilpert 2007, p. 32). Sentences with just because have thereby become more likely to be completed with a negative proposition (umformulieren) over time. According to Hilpert’s findings, this was not the case before 1850. There has also been a change in the DM-Y part of the construction. While early examples most likely include a separate subject before the DM (Bender and Kathol: clausal JB –X DM-Y), since 1950 the construction exists both with and without (predicate JB-X DM-Y) such a separate subject.

The following examples have been taken from Hilpert (2007):

  1. Just because you know the subject matter it doesn't mean you can teach it.
  2. Just because you know the subject matter doesn't mean you can teach it.
Interestingly, over time there seems to have been a shift in frequency, favouring sentences with the predicate variation such as 2. This is a very recent development and as Hilpert assumes, this very likelily resulted from prominent pronunciation patterns in spoken English. Due to the fact that the subject in the _DM_-part does hardly carry any meaning (it is an ‘anaphoric pronoun that has little semantic import of its own’ (Hilpert 2007, p. 33)), native speakers would not stress the pronoun in natural speech. Over time, the version lacking the pronoun has become accepted and is more likely to be found nowadays.

2.7. Stage of Acquisition

(comments on age and circumstances of the acquisition)

3. Form

3.1. Syntax


Even though the construction is called JB-X DM-Y, it includes an impressive variety, which often lacks the just because and/or the verb mean. In 4.5, example sentences which show interesting differences to the ‘standard’ JB-X DM-Y construction will be given. As Hilpert points out, the construction in general consists of a clause that starts ‘with a pre-modifying instance of because’ and a second part which either expresses a negative propostion or a proposition that conveys negative polarity. Generally speaking, there are several other verbs such as be, make, assume, give, follow, think, expect, have to and imagine (see Hilpert 2007, p.31) which can be used in the DM part of the construction. Nevertheless, mean is by far the most widely used verb in this particular construction. It also has to be noted that almost all the verbs do to a certain degree refer to the process of inferencing. As Bender and Kathol point out, in addition to that even the direct negation in the DM-part is not obligatory.

3.1.2. Internal Valency

(information on valency relationships inside the construction) Constituency

(description of the constituent relationships inside the construction)

3.1.3. External Category

Head adjunct phrase Structural Position

(syntagmatic relationships with other constructions (but see also 4.3))

3.2. Morphology


(general comments on the morphological properties of the construction)

3.2.2. Internal Morphological Properties of Elements

(morphological properties of elements)

3.2.3. External Morphological Properties of Construction

(morphological properties of the construction itself)

4. Meaning

4.1. Semantics


“The JB-X DM-Y construction contributes the information that the speaker believes that Y cannot be inferred from X.” (Bender and Kathol 2001) JB-X DM-Y constructions generally seem to convey ‘inference denial’. The speaker concedes that the JB-clause is a true statement but he/she makes the addressee aware of the fact that the proposition stated in the _DM_-part does not necessarily follow. To the contrary, the speaker distances him-/herself from the assumption of an inference. Normally, the construction also strongly points to the interpretation that Y is untrue in the first place. (prose description of construction's meaning)

4.1.2. Internal Frame

(frame evoked) Event

(event type) Participants

(description of the participants, e.g. as 'selection restrictions') Truth-Conditional Information

(information on the truthconditional properties of the construction) Negation

(peculiar behaviours with respect to negation) Scope

(description of the scope of the construction)

4.1.3. External Semantic Class

(semantic category)
Conventional implicature ?? (Bender and Kathol 2001) Relation to Construction-External Semantic Elements

(description of semantic relations outside of the construction) Truth Relations

(information on the truthconditional relationships of the construction) Semantic Presuppositions

(semantic presupposition) Semantic Entailments

(semantic entailments)

4.2. Pragmatics


(general comments on the pragmatic behaviour of the construction)

4.2.2. Internal

(internal pragmatic properties)

4.2.3. External Indexical Properties Deixis

(linguistic and extralinguistic domains indexed) Intertextuality

(intertextual links evoked) Interpersonal Function

(politeness, other-self, etc.)
Usually used to express disagreement, sometimes conveying irony and humour, sarcasm. Speaker attitude

(modality, epistemic, emotion)
Speaker distances him-/herself from the supposed inferential relation between X and Y. Speech Act Function

(illocutionary force) Rhetorical Function

(rhetorical potential) Style

(stylistic features) Pragmatic Presuppositions / Implicature

(modality, epistemic, emotion)

4.3. Discourse Properties

4.3.1. Internal Turn Constructional Status

(status as TCU) Within-Turn Position

(turn-initial, -medial, -final position, etc.)

4.3.2.External Sequential Context

(position in sequence) Position in Text- and Dialogue-Structure

(position in larger discourse structure) Sequence Type

(type of sequence)

4.4. Information Structure

4.4.1. Internal Topic - Comment

(contribution to topic-comment structure) Focus

(placement of focus)

4.4.2. External Signaled Information Status

(status of information as given, new, inferable, etc.) Information Status Requirements

(information status requirements)

4.5. Data

4.5.1. Introspection

(introspective data used)

4.5.2. Authentic data Source data properties

(description of corpus (publicly available/self-compiled, channel/medium, register, genre, text type, speaker info (number of interlocutors, gender, age, background, (non-)native, etc.)))

Examples taken from Bender and Kathol 2001 if not stated otherwise.

  1. Just because we live in Berkley doesn't mean we're left-wing radicals (1)
  2. Simply because it's conservative doesn't mean it's wrong (Hilpert (3))
  3. Just because the lights are on doesn’t mean that John is in his office. (Hilpert (7b))
  4. Just because a client is the customer doesn’t mean he is always right. (Hilpert (10a))
  5. Now, simply because it’s desirable doesn’t mean it’s doable. (Hilpert (10b)) *concessivity
  6. Now, simply because it’s desirable doesn’t mean it’s doable. (Hilpert (10b)) *concessivity
Just because your seat has a number doesn’t mean you should be treated like one. (Hilpert (11)) *humorous effect
  1. Just because nobody complains doesn’t mean all parachutes are perfect. (Hilpert (12))

Without direct negation of the predicate in the DM-Y part:
  1. Yet, just because some people cannot distinguish between serious and hypothetical risks hardly means that knowledgeable Republicans cannot muster the courage to speak out for health. (14)
  2. “Just because someone has a black belt means nothing,” said Jones. (15)
  3. “You haven’t said - and I’m not saying – that just because a person makes that kind of money means there is waste, fraud and abuse,” Billirakis said.
  4. Just because it’s difficult is a poor reason not to try. (Hilpert (2))
  5. “Just because a guy has bleached hair, winter tan, speaks slowly and is pleasant to the point of being vacuous,” asks a pointed essay in the magazine, “ does that mean he’s a surfer?” (17)
  6. If just because we live in Berkeley means we’re left-wing radicals, you have some serious misconceptions about our city. (18)
  7. I doubt that just because they live in Berkeley means they’re left-wing radicals. (19)
  8. Like just because we live in Berkeley means we’re left-wing radicals! (20)
  9. (So, let me get this straight,) just because we live in Berkeley means we’re left-wing radicals. (21a)
  10. Kim seems to believe that just because we live in Berkeley means we’re left wing radicals. (22a)

With other predicates (instead of mean):
  1. Just because a guy knocks out a hamburger in the first round doesn’t establish the fact that he’s back. (26)
  2. Ito said that just because the source had access to the less advanced tests did not prove that the source had access to the sock. (27)
  3. “Just because a person has very high grades and looks like a model citizen does not always indicate that they are a fine human being,” he said. (29)
  4. “Just because other areas are doing okay, is not a sign that we in New England are doing badly,” said Gaal. (30)
  5. Just because there is profanity in a book doesn’t say you condone or endorse that. (32)
  6. They emphasize that culture can and often must supersede instinct: that just because apes commit rape in no way justifies similar behavior in humans. (33)
  7. “Just because we did a lousy in fee-for-service is not an excuse to do a lousy job with HMOs,” Ms. Dallek said. (35)
  8. “Just because the doctor can’t find out what’s wrong with me doesn’t make my back hurt any less,” Dr. Reed said. (36)
  9. Just because McCamant or any analyst says a company is ripe to be acquired doesn’t make it true. (37)
  10. Just because they are small does not make them less precious. (Hilpert 2007 (9))
  11. I mean, just because we beat Phoenix doesn’t move us into the Top 25 of the AP poll. (38)
  12. “Just because the driver was a different race does not qualify it as a hate crime,” Pigott said. (40)
  13. Just because employees dislike each other is not an automatic cause for alarm. (43)
  14. Just because some land deal is being made does not negate the need for affordable housing in San Francisco. (44)
  15. Just because someone is involved in civic affairs and supports candidates should not automatically exclude them from conducting a business. (46)
  16. “And just because a place is a party school is not a bad thing,” Custard said. (47)
  17. Just because a thing appears to us at present to be illogical does not, of necessity, disprove its validity. (Hilpert (16))

A interenet via google: 08/28/08 Query: “just because”

Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you.


B internet via Sara: 08/28/08 Query: "just because"

A1V 962 `;JUST because I wasn't interned in 1981 doesn't mean I'm not a Polish patriot too,'; fumed a member of the Karczmiska Communist Party committee.

A70 1237 Even if she is sympathetic, it doesn't mean that she will automatically want to start a serious relationship with you just because she is gay.

AM0 38 Just because very few hotels have that many single rooms it doesn't mean you should pay an arm and a leg for the privilege of being alone.

APX 279 Just because Council is delegated in the matter of routine gives it no right to assume such a role when it proposes such a mammoth commitment.

B1R 39 Just because it is so common that it is regarded as `;normal'; to expect chronic ill health with advancing years does that mean that it is the way things have to be or, indeed, should be?

FPC 1213 Yet just because it is so general and common a process, finding its means and occasions and objects in such diverse ways, and again and again interpenetrating with many of the most practical or most ideological activities, it cannot reasonably be abstracted to one exclusive set of practices or one exclusive intention or set of intentions.

G36 306 Just because I'm smiling doesn't mean I'm not being tortured inside.

H9C 3237 Just because it was found there doesn't mean it has anything to do with the crimes you are investigating'

JND 407 Just because you're assertive that doesn't mean you're gonna get everything that you want because you're not being assertive just means that other people are aware of what you want. http://sara.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/saraWeb?qy=just+because

Same query 09/20/2008

A2E 579 `;Just because he wants to leave is no reason for us to strike a bargain price,'; Bassett said yesterday.

C9Y 2520 Just because nobody said anything doesn't mean that you went unnoticed.

CHU 879 Just because the paper was in Manchester would not even mean that it would be easier to report on the north.

FRS 963 `;Just because he's not frivolous and making jokes every five minutes doesn't make him boring!

HJB 384 But just because the ranger service has expanded it does not necessarily mean there will be similar increase in the number of school visits or guided walks.

HRT 2955 JUST because we haven't been seen in LINK for a while --; it doesn't mean its been quiet at Crediton!

KGW 166 So er just because it looks like seduction doesn't mean it's not abuse, I suppose that's what I'm saying in the in the in a nutshell.

Same query 09/23/2008

A7A 21 Just because I got you off seeing Herr Lettner doesn't mean it won't happen again.

CM4 2372 Doesn't mean I'm going to die prematurely just because my face has character.

FAB 2590 Just because I have a dark blue saloon car… well, does that make me a murderer?

FT8 1171 And just because it looks easy to use a mouse and icons to develop new database applications, it doesn't mean that you can forget all about the coding side.

FUG 188 I mean just because it might be safer to travel on the train doesn't from the fact that the incidence of where people gain access to the rails and there are near misses either to the drivers or the people on level crossings or everything else.

GV8 1072 After all, just because she had been unaccompanied at Emma's house, just because she had accepted his invitation to dinner, did not mean that she was unattached.

H94 4891 `;Just because the whole of Venice is in a headlong flight from reality, it doesn't mean that you have to act stupidly.

HBN 844 Within my college work, I had already taken the decision to devote more time and concentration to HNC/Ds; just because they work smoothly and efficiently and have a good reputation is no excuse for not keeping actively in touch with this area.

HDE 48 And just because the software you're using can do transaction processing it doesn't mean it can do decision support.

J0U 698 Unfortunately the third sentence sends us reeling back to square one in terms of methodological confusion: we are now told that just because Keynes had tried to provide a theoretical underpinning for the concept of involuntary unemployment does not, ipso facto, oblige subsequent theorists to `;'explain'; the theoretical constructs of our predecessors'.

J10 1965 Just because there isn't a body, that doesn't mean there couldn't be a case.

Same query 09/24/2008

AJM 1149 Just because they have been disowned by Labour has not stopped them hitching their star to its bandwagon.

AM0 136 But just because Club 18-;30 is a great place for meeting people and making new friends of either sex, it doesn't mean to say that those people who already have someone special in their lives can't come and join in the fun as well.

AM0 146 Of course, just because you're all wishy washy and moonstruck, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy all the great fun of a Club 18-;30 holiday.

APU 685 You must never think you're better than somebody else just because of that.

B06 643 Just because the human ear is `;deaf'; to high frequency and low frequency sounds, as every scientist knows, it does not mean they do not exist, nor that we cannot be affected by them.


CHU 879 Just because the paper was in Manchester would not even mean that it would be easier to report on the north.

FAT 1600 Just because the land was generous and never left them seriously hungry, it didn't mean they were ever relieved of their relentless toil.

GXG 3114 We are not convinced that just because large quantities of potential secondary materials are present in the North Wales region, they can be used to meet unsustainable demand at an acceptable environmental cost.

HJB 384 But just because the ranger service has expanded it does not necessarily mean there will be similar increase in the number of school visits or guided walks.

HSK 559 Just because days are getting shorter it doesn't mean you can forget having a bit of fun in the garden.

J19 376 Just because I don't go around laughing my head off all the time or… or spending money on bunches of flowers too big to fit into the car, it does not mean that I am cross.

KP6 3194 Just because they're the youngest year in the school doesn't mean they're gonna go round and, you know erm and copy what oth no that's, no I'm sorry Charlotte

KS6 599 Just because they're outside callers, it doesn't mean to say they don't know what hours. Methods of Analysis

(source material size/length, number of tokens considered, sampling, search string, sample rate, number of retrieved hits, cleaning procedures)

4.6. Literature

(list of literature in which this construction has been discussed)
Bender, Emily M. And Kathol, Andreas (...). Constructional Effects of Just Because...Doesn’t Mean... . Berkeley Linguistics Society.

Hilpert, Martin (2007). Just because it’s new doesn’t mean people will notice it. English Today 23: 29-33.

Hirose, Y. (1991). On a certain nominal use of because-clauses: Just because because-clauses can substitute for that-clauses does not mean that this is always possible. English Linguistics 8: 16-33.

Kanetani, Masaru (...). Just Because of a Causal PP Doesn’t Mean that It Cannot Be A Subject: An Analogical Construction. University of Tsukuba. http://gmc.utexas.edu/iccg5/abstracts/kanetani.pdf

5. Relations to other constructions

5.1. Subtypes

5.1.1. Diachronic

(relations to subtypes of the construction through time)

According to Hilpert, the clausal JB-X DM-Y construction type developed first. Due to pronunciation patterns in spoken English, the predicate JB-X DM-Y has become more and more common.

5.1.2. Synchronic

(relations to subtypes of the construction)

Kanetani argues that the JBo-X DM-Y construction, which some linguists consider to be ungrammatical, is a subtype of the JB-X DM-Y construction and developed as an analogy of the JB-X DM-Y structure. Additionally, Kanetani suggests that the JBo-X DM-Y variation is indeed of a substandard nature but nevertheless, it is a subtype of the existing construction and in use.

5.2. Supertypes

5.2.1. Diachronic

(relations to more general constructions through time)

5.2.2. Synchronic

(relations to more general constructions)

As Bender and Kathol (2001) point out, the underlying construction type in the construction hierarchy is the so-called head-adjunct phrase. The first subtype of that construction seems to be the JB-inference-denial construction, followed by the two more specific constructions JB-X not-Y and of course the JB-X DM-Y construction which is being dealt with in this document.

5.3. Paradigmatic Relations

(relations to constructions of the same category)

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