Paul McFedries lists at MCFEDRIES.COM
Thu Dec 7 12:39:09 UTC 2000

This is a delightful (and delightfully simple) explanation of why people are
dropping the "of". It also explains why the "of" is offed more often the
faster people speak. (I know when I'm in a hurry, the "of" is outta there.)

However, what I was trying to account for wasn't the dropping of the "of,"
but the insertion of the darn thing in the first place. Is there a simple
way to account for it?


----- Original Message -----
From: "Dennis R. Preston" <preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU>
Sent: Thursday, December 07, 2000 7:09 AM
Subject: Re: Couple.

> Well, I like all these semantics stories, but, being of a simpler mind,
> always bogged down in phonology. The weak final syllable of "couple,"
> coupled with (no pun intended) the weak syllbale of "of" is ripe for
> deletion when the next sound is vocalic (as the first of "years" is). From
> there to similar deletion before nonvocalics (a couple dozen) is not much
> of a leap, and the well-known historical invasion of lexicon, morphology,
> and grammar by the phonology is evidenced all over again.
> dInIs (the simple)
> >> My own view is you have to explain why it's not a
> >> dozen of eggs before you can object to a couple eggs.
> >
> >Do you also say "a pair eggs"? Probably not. Couple (and pair) seems to
> >the "of" tacked on because of its verb sense "to join; to link." You have
> >describe such a coupling as a "linking _of_" one thing and another. So if
> >the gerund takes "of", then at some point somebody must have figured the
> >noun must need it, too. (This is a wild-ass guess on my part.) Dozen has
> >such "joining" component, so "a dozen of" is never considered.

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