[Ads-l] "a coupla three"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 16 23:32:46 UTC 2015

I'd never noticed the phrase in NYC, but encountered it the first day I was
in Knoxville.

Means nothing, of course.


On Wed, Dec 16, 2015 at 6:25 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      "a coupla three"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> For about the past 75 years, I've *assumed* this spelling to be the
> eye-phonetics of "a couple of three."  This has never made much sense to
> me. But, what are you going to do? It is what it is.
> Then,  a couple of three days ago, I came across the phrase spelled out as
> "a couple _or_ three"! Why, that's nothing but a clear variant of "_two_ or
> three"! How can it be that this has never occurred to me?
> Youneverknow.
> Googling "a couple of three" yielded a *very* raw 65,400,000 hits,
> including strings like, "a couple of three-legged stools" et sim., whereas
> there were only 208,000 hits for "a couple or three." But *all* of them
> were relevant. How could they not be?
> So, I Googled "a couple of three things" against "a couple or three
> things." The yield was 17,600 hits for _of_ vs. 17,700 for _or_.
> Historically, no less a figure than George Washington used "a couple or
> three" in 1777. OTOH, the oldest relevant example of "a couple or three"
> easily found by Google dates from only 1987, on Page ii of the work,
> Syntactic Blends in English Parole, by George Leonard Cohen. [Somehow, the
> author's name seems to strike a familiar note. ;-)]
> --
> -Wilson
> -----
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -Mark Twain
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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