sooner and later

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Fri Sep 28 14:53:38 UTC 2007

Early this week we discussed the strange-looking sentence "We want our cake and eat it too." ArnoldZ suggested that it's "maybe a telescoping of 'want to have our cake and eat it too'" (and he quoted a sentence beginning "If you are interested in buying or selling and save lots of money . . ."). I suspect that proverbial expressions and other "fixed" phrasings are especially prone to such aberrations when they are worked into larger syntactic constructions.

Yesterday on an Atlanta TV station, Bobby Patrino--coach of the Atlanta Falcons--declared that his beleaguered team will resume its winning ways, but "we need it sooner than later." When he said it, orally, it ALMOST sounded right!


The American Dialect Society -

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