I have little patience with “word of the year” hoopla; as I wrote to Paul T. (who agreed), it seems like pure marketing nonsense. (Needless to say, if people enjoy it, I don’t begrudge them their enjoyment — this is Liberty Hall, and I speak only for myself.) But Geoff Pullum has an extremely interesting point to make about the American Dialect Society’s choice of because with noun phrase (a phenomenon discussed, among many other places, in Megan Garber’s Atlantic Monthly article “English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet“) in his Log post Because syntax, namely that because is a preposition and not, as most dictionaries call it, a conjunction. He begins by going into great detail about why it isn’t a conjunction and then explains why because of isn’t a preposition before giving his own conclusion about because:
Contrary to all the dictionaries, it is a preposition. As its complement (the phrase that follows it to complete the PP) it may take either a clause (as in the PP because he holds ridiculous beliefs) or a PP with of as its head (as in the PP because of our public universities). Some prepositions can occur with no complement (as in We went in), some require an NP (as of does) some require a clause (as although does), and some require a PP (like out in those uses that do not involve exiting from delimited regions of space: notice that They did it out of ignorance is grammatical but *They did it out ignorance is not).
The change that has caught the eye of the American Dialect Society is simply that because has picked up the extra privilege already possessed by prepositions like of: it now allows a noun phrase (NP) as complement (with a subtly different shade of meaning: because money seems to express only a rather vague and non-serious commitment to the idea that the reason is financial).
It’s all good stuff; read the whole thing.