Because-Noun, A Lawyer’s Use

in-view-of-the-fact-scaliaIf you are not yet aware of the “because-noun,” here’s a quick tutorial.

Before the internet, before sometime last week even, the word “because” was normally regarded—grammatically at least—as a subordinating conjunction, used in two varying ways to connect pieces of a sentence, to wit:

  1. connecting two finite clauses, as in “I am writing this post because I want you to read it.” or
  2. connecting a prepositional phrase to the main part of a sentence, as in “I am writing this post because of my ego.”

Recently, though, the internet has changed that, and we now have the because-noun, also called the “prepositional-because” and even the “because-gerund.” Basically, the because-noun omits the typical clauses that follow the word because, culminating instead with a single noun or any other grammatical or linguistic device you can bring on. Why? Because meme. That’s why.

As the Atlantic’s Megan Barber explained in a post that seems to have brought this burning issue to the mainstream, the because-noun “is exceptionally bloggy and aggressively casual and implicitly ironic.” Or as one linquist stated:

It has a snappy, jocular feel, with a syntactic jolt that allows long explanations to be forgone.

Sure, that’s all great, but what’s a lawyer to do? Allow these syntactic jolts into our memoranda, legal briefs, and client correspondence? Into our otherwise stilted and overblown legalistic language? Hardly, because lawyers.

First, most lawyers and judges are intellectually fearful of irony. Moreover, they do not generally recognize it—even on Twitter–let alone irony that is “implicit” and “jocular.” We just can’t do it. But, with a couple of tweaks, lawyers should be good to go in another more formal and accepted memish direction. That is, lawyers can easily modify the because-noun and replace it with the in-view-of-the-fact-that-noun, which also comes in short and long flavors, such as the inasmuch-noun and the prepositional-owing-to-the-fact-that. Confused? Here are some examples to help:

Originalism forces legislatures to reconsider and possibly repeal or amend their own bad laws, rather than to leave it to the courts to get rid of them, in view of the fact that Scalia.

Though plaintiff may argue that the tortious behavior at issue in the case did not occur, his actions and words contradict such a position, inasmuch Deposition.

When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court views the facts in the record, and all the reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the record, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, owing to the fact that Duh.

Remember, lawyers are recognized experts at using big words when smaller words will do. Why change, even in the face of a popular meme? We don’t see a reason.

Gregory Luce is the editor of Bitter Lawyer. He creates stuff and writes various columns, including Legal Crap My Kids Ask Me, Ask a Futurist, and Postcards from Lawyers.

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