"Seed crystals" (was: "Regionalism" and "Another think coming")

Subject: "Seed crystals" (was: "Regionalism" and "Another think coming")
From: Ken d'Albenas <kendal -at- AUTOTROL -dot- CUC -dot- AB -dot- CA>
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 1994 21:05:53 MST

Chuck Campbell <cpc -at- nmt -dot- edu> asks, re "you've got another
thin{g,k} coming":

> Can those of you who favor _thing_ supply us explain more
> clearly the conditions under which the expression is used,
> or what "thing" is supposed to be coming?

> If we can't settle this question by May, I'm giving up on it. :=>

Hee hee. Good 'un, Mr. C.

Have we set a new list record for number of letters on one topic?
Someone asked how this all got started. Well, gentle reader, it
started last week with "Homophones and perils of email format," and
then rapidly evolved into a free-for-all (or is that freeforall?) on

I confess I'm the one who dropped this "thin{g,k}" thang into the
stew. I thought it'd be a good seed crystal, and it grew into a virtual
rock garden. Although "think" and "thing" aren't strictly homophones,
"think coming" and "thing coming" clearly are, as Vicki Rosenzweig
pointed out.

Holy Pandora's Box, Batman!

Well, since I started it, perhaps I should try to end it. Quite
some time ago one of those grammar columnists wrote an article about
"another thin{g,k} coming." The "think" form was news to me, but he
had obviously done a good deal of research, and his conclusion was
this: both forms are extremely common, yet all the "thing" people are
unaware of the "think" form, and vice versa. This week's techwr-L
responses bear that out admirably. Perhaps someone can locate the
article - sorry, I don't remember the author's name, but he's a
syndicated columnist that our local weekend paper picked up. (No,
it wasn't Dave Barry or Art Buchwald.)

Now, let's see if I can stir up some more trouble. These aren't
about homophones; they're about phraseology that I've run into a lot
when editing technical documentation. Are there regional or
international trends in the following?
1. Couple (of)
2. Displays

1. Couple (of):
Americans usually seem to write (for example) "a couple remarks;"
others seem to prefer adding the preposition: "a couple of remarks."
But everyone everywhere agrees on the following constructions:
- a few remarks
- a couple more remarks (though some also write and say, "a couple
of more remarks")
- a lot of remarks

Anyone want to tackle the "couple of" issue?

2. Displays:
According to all my dictionaries, the verb "display" is transitive
unless referring to mating behaviour in birds and animals. Yet I
see the following usage a lot from certain sources:

"A progress message displays in the Message Window."

Unless it's an _extremely_ attractive and user-friendly message (!)
I change it to "is displayed," or even better - you guessed it -



Ken d'Albenas
Replies to: kendal -at- autotrol -dot- cuc -dot- ab -dot- ca
Flames to: kendal@/dev/null

People who grumble, "I have better things
to do with my time," rarely do.
- Anonymous


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