Date: Fri, 9 Jan 1998 23:04:30 -0500
From: Bryan Gick bgick[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]SAPIR.LING.YALE.EDU
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
[...] following context: "I'll do it as well as I can" and "I'll do it
to the best of my ability."
I'm sure this has been sufficiently answered by now, but since I get the
digest ADS-L, I won't know till midnight, and I hope to be far from my
email then. So, with due apologies for redundancy:
I agree that this is probably a syntactic blend of the sort you cite, but
a simpler one. I have to assume that it came of "..as x as.." and "..as
best one can..," which, though a bit victorian sounding, does make perfect
sense (cf. also "as best I am able"). A few examples:
"They suppressed, thence-forward, their grief, as best they could..."
-- _The Captivity of Jonathan Alder (1773-1849) and His Life with the
Indians, as Dictated by Him and Transcribed by His Son Henry_, Ch.1.
"...all that day and during the night I gave myself Christian Science
treatment, as best I could." -- Mary Baker Eddy, 1875, in _Science and
Health with Key to the Scriptures_, ch.XVIII, p.603.
"...trading on the basis of information, which as best I can judge, is
rather faulty." -- Greenspan, at the House budget hearings, Mar.4,1997.
..there's also, of course, the possibility (likelihood?) that it comes to
us on analogy with "asbestos," as hinted in my subject header, but I'll
keep that one under my hat.