Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 20:38:30 -0500

From: Gerald Cohen gcohen[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UMR.EDU

Subject: Re: "as best as I can remember"

This past July there were several ads-l messages dealing with the

construction "as best as I can remember"; the consensus was that this

construction is illogical, but I do not remember a clear explanation as to

how it originated.

I believe the construction almost certainly originated as a syntactic

blend--a good example of which is "time and again," blended from "time

after time" and "again and again." In the case of "as best as I can

remember," let's leave off "remember" for the moment and operate with the

following context: "I'll do it as well as I can" and "I'll do it to the

best of my ability." These two can blend to produce "I'll do it as best as

I can." With "as best as" now interchangeable with "as well as" (in this

initial context), its use was extended to other contexts, e.g. "as best as

I can remember."

I have spent 20 years on and off collecting examples of syntactic

blends in English--mostly those in "parole" (i.e. not part of standard

speech). I refer interested readers to two items I have written on blends:

1) Gerald Leonard Cohen: _Syntactic Blends in English _Parole_ _ (=Forum

Anglicum, vol. 15). Frankfurt a.M.: Peter Lang, 1987. 178 pp. --This work

consist primarily of a long of syntactic blends, with the collection aimed

at providing the raw material for further analysis and at emphasizing the

frequency of syntactic blending in everyday speech.

2) Gerald Leonard Cohen: "Contributions to the Study of Blending." in:

_Etymology and Linguistic Principles, vol. l: Pursuit of Linguistic

Insight_, 1988, pp.81-94. I edit and publish this series.