Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Jan 13 20:30:20 UTC 2009

One more point on too-ing and fro-ing:  for many speakers/writers,
the idiom itself in its bare form is "too and fro".  There are 117K
hits for this, of which the first is a recasting of the age-old

Do your balls hang low,
Can you swing them too and fro?

And however one analyzes "to and fro" in such contexts, the
conversion presupposed by the gerund form makes it even weirder or
more arbitrary to treat a preposition like "to" as a verb or
whatever.  Not that adverbial "too" is any more transparent, but if
you're just guessing, it's not too surprising that you might come up
with "too and fro"/"too-ing and fro-ing" rather than "to and
fro"/"too-ing and fro-ing".


At 10:52 AM -0500 1/13/09, Victor wrote:
>I have a tendency to be anal when it comes to certain kinds of analysis.
>When it comes to searches, I try to be exhaustive. So, when I came
>across an unfamiliar form of a familiar expression, I chose to dive in.
>The expression was simply too jarring for a [non-native] American ear
>and I was curious.
>In a Telegraph daily English soccer gossip bulletin (emailed), you can
>find [no link],
>-The Mirror, too, is full of possible *too-ings and fro-ings*.
>Manchester City have supposedly tried to bring Inter Milan striker
>Adriano to Eastlands in a swap deal with his compatriot Jo.
>I thought, at first, this was a one-off, but quickly discovered
>otherwise. This is what started the goose chase.
>Although Google shows 95000 raw hits for "too-ing", most are unrelated
>(and easily explicable). Still, there are quite a few. More precise
>"too-ing-and-fro-ing" gets 2660 raw hits (also 3790 raw for
>"tooing-and-froing", with nontrivial overlap). Of those where
>identification is possible, nearly all are of Australian or British
>origin, which explains my unfamiliarity with the expression (I was
>familiar with the base "to and fro"). I may have come across the
>specific expression before, but hadn't notice it.

The American Dialect Society -

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