X to Y: Recency illusion?

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue Apr 29 19:44:32 UTC 2008

On Tue, Apr 29, 2008 at 3:23 PM, Benjamin Zimmer
<bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
>  It's much easier to find examples preceded by an adjective --
>  "first/next thing is...", "odd/strange thing is", etc. The first
>  example below seems particularly telegraphic (it's a journal entry
>  where "the" is deleted elsewhere), but the later ones seem merely to
>  be emphatic or colloquial:
>  -----
>  1895 _Punch_ (2 Mar.) 107
>  Odd thing is that in series of divisions Government had nearest squeak
>  on motion for the Closure.
>  http://books.google.com/books?id=EP8CAAAAIAAJ
>  -----

Earlier, better cite:

1875 _New Monthly Magazine_ 142 First thing is to search the body for
the weapon with which the act was committed.

Of course I'm lumping together various patterns that Arnold may treat
distinctly: "(ADJ) thing is" followed by an independent clause, a
relative clause, or an infinitival complement.

--Ben Zimmer

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

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