X to Y: Recency illusion?

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Mon Apr 28 03:23:30 UTC 2008

For a few years, I've been noticing the omission of the preposition 'from'
in phrases like these:

    Buddha to Buffy (teaser headline for a newspaper article on books with
titles of form "What Would {someone famous} Do?", Columbus Dispatch, April
25, 2008)
    Online to On-Air: First series to go from Internet to TV will make
historic debut tonight
        (headline in Life and Arts section of Columbus Dispatch, 26 Feb.
    Gas-friendly to gas-free. (Ad for 2008 Chevy Tahoe hybrid)
    Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show: Hollywood to the Heartland (2008
movie title)
    Blah to Wow (teaser headline on Oprah magazine cover, late 2007/early
    Sally Field: Sadness to Success (teaser headline on Weekly World News,
late 2007)
    showers to christenings, engagements to silver anniversaries, packing
parties to housewarmings
        (ad for custom printing in a Hallmark store, fall 2007)
    Birth to Three Years (Newsweek cover, sometime in 2004)
    Milk to Ice Cream; Tomatoes to Ketchup; Beans to Chocolate; Wax to
Crayons; Trees to Paper
        (several children's nonfiction books by Inez Snyder, 2003)
    Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't
(2001 book by Jim Collins)
    Dinosaurs to Dodos: An Encyclopedia of Extinct Animals (1999 book by Don

I can understand the phrases, but experience the same kind of parsing
inconvenience and annoyance in adding back in the 'from' as I do when I have
to mentally supply the missing words for phrases like "Long story short",
and "Snooze, you lose". One guess I have is that this is a generalization
from clipped "from X to Y" PPs in compounds like "cradle-to-grave insurance"
or "head-to-toe coverage" or "wall-to-wall carpet".

What prompted me to ask about this today was something in today's newspaper:

    "Tweens to teenagers are going to hear their parents say 'no' for the
first time," said Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group, based
in South Carolina. ("Hot new trend among teenagers: frugality." Charlie
Boss, The Columbus Dispatch, Apr. 27, 2008, A1)

I believe that's the first time I've seen the "X to Y" construction used as
something other than a PP. Here, not only do I have to add in a 'from'; I
also have to add in an 'Everyone'. to make it a full NP. And ignore the
morphological disagreement between this 'Everyone' and the subsequent 'are'.
At this point I have to conclude that "X to Y" is going or has gone beyond a
mere clipping and is becoming something else.

You can see above that 1999 is my earliest dating for it, but I wonder how
long it's really been out there. It's hard to search for, since the only
word that remains constant is the 'to', and I don't know what keywords would
find me any scholarly research on this. Do any of you have antedatings or


Neal Whitman
Email: nwhitman at ameritech.net
Blog: http://literalminded.wordpress.com
Webpage: http://literalmindedlinguistics.com

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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