"It's _away_ better than fast food! It's Wendy's!" [NT}

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Mon Jul 27 15:32:03 UTC 2009

On Jul 26, 2009, at 11:49 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:

> A specific example that complicates things even more:
> “We’re still _a ways away_ from our goal of providing equal
> educational
> opportunity both academically and athletically,” said Bayh.
> http://talkradionews.com/2009/06/new-title-ix-legislation-requires-schools-to-make-student-athlete-data-public/
> Not "way". Not "away". Not "ways"--but "a ways". (Could, of course,
> just
> be the editor's parsing and it's really just "aways".) "A ways away"
> is
> just ironic (for this thread)!

back in the February discussion here, the degree modifier "aways", as
an alternative to "away" came up.  i said:

  >a stunning number of google hits for {"aways better"}, but most of
them seem to be spellings of "always better".  some, however, are
pretty clearly intended to be the adverbial modifier.

  >the OED has an entry for adverbial "aways" ("away" + adverbial
genitive "-s"), marked as obsolete.  but apparently it lives.  either
a survival, in the spoken language, that went unrecorded for ca. 300
years or a fresh extension of -s in the vernacular.


there are some hits for {"a ways better"} as an alternative spelling,

   I assume, that therefore he's not been out to even just try, to
surpass this theory by a ways better one.

   However, you want to try to find a laptop with Core2Duo. They are
quite a ways better than the Celerons and even the Pentiums,

but the Bayh quote is more complex than this, since it looks like a
cross between the (non-standard) extent adverb "ways" -- "We're still
a/some ways from our goal" -- and the degree adverb use illustrated


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

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