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"All of the sudden"....hmmm

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"All of the sudden"....hmmm

Postby dsteve54 » Sat Oct 06, 2007 12:27 pm

I am a budding linguist and perhaps would like to teach English to Russians someday. However, at this rate, that will be a long time coming.

Anyway, I do daydream from time to time about certain American English phrases that are used, yet I cannot seem to figure out how to explain them to foreign students.

Consider the phrase I hear in my region (Midwest originally, now Colorado).

"All of the sudden, ...."

First of all I do not even know if it considered correct grammar. (Phonetically, one tends to hear "all the sudden", "all oda sudden" or something that slurs the phrase and truncates the "of"). Maybe "all of THE sudden" is bad grammar, and "all of A sudden" is good grammar. I just do not know. If it is not grammatically correct, would it be identified as an idiomatic construct?

Secondly, if it is correct grammar, I am not sure how to identify it technically, in grammatical terms. It seems to be an "adverbial phrase" or maybe just an "idiomatic phrase".

Lastly, I am not even sure why I automatically sometimes use this rather than simply saying "Suddenly,". I use both. I am not sure, but I think that one typically might utter "all of the sudden, " while relating an anecdote, so maybe it is unconciously chosen for dramatic effect, or simply to underscore a weaker "suddenly".

Thanks for any help. I suppose in Russian, this phrase might be rendered as "ни с того ни с сего", but if someone has a rendering in Russian that fits better, that would be great.
Last edited by dsteve54 on Sat Oct 06, 2007 8:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Bailey » Sat Oct 06, 2007 4:38 pm

lol, much like the ubiquitous "shouldda", how does one explain that one, should have but often said should of. Can you just say slang? Here it's allo sudden.

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Postby Perry » Sat Oct 06, 2007 9:56 pm

I cannont recall hearing this with the definitive the. It has always been all of a sudden for me.
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Postby sluggo » Sat Oct 06, 2007 10:41 pm

I've never heard a definite article used here either. It wouldn't really make much sense; since the idea of suddenness is just being introduced, there's no preexisting condition to refer to with the.

Russian I believe has no articles- what's the literal translation there?
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Postby skinem » Sun Oct 07, 2007 10:18 am

Perry wrote:I cannont recall hearing this with the definitive the. It has always been all of a sudden for me.


Never heard "the" either.
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Postby dsteve54 » Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:51 am

skinem wrote:
Perry wrote:I cannont recall hearing this with the definitive the. It has always been all of a sudden for me.


Never heard "the" either.


skinem and others:
That's fair enough; I simply did not know. One certainly can't tell very well around these parts simply by listening, as the phrase is all slurred together. It is like trying to say "Louisville" (in Kentucky) as one syllable....arghh. I some times think I am hearing "allthsudden" when maybe it is "allasudden". But as long as somebody helped me with the proper grammar, that is fine. Thanks.
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Postby Stargzer » Tue Oct 09, 2007 12:00 am

I, too, use the phrase "all of a sudden." Let's see what Mr. Yahoo can find for us searching +"all of a sudden" +origin ...

First hit:
AskOxford
sudden
adjective occurring or done quickly and unexpectedly.
— PHRASES (all) of a sudden suddenly.
— DERIVATIVES suddenness noun.
— ORIGIN Old French sudein, from Latin subitus.


The rest of the hits deal with origin of the universe, Darwinism, and so forth. Let's substitute +etymology ...

First hit again;
Allwords.com
Your Query of 'sudden' Resulted in 1 Matches
From the AND Concise Dictionary

Displaying Items 1 through 1

Definitions

sudden
happening or done quickly, without warning or unexpectedly.

Content Under License from Crystal Reference, copyright 2003.


Your Query of 'sudden' Resulted in 1 Matches
From The AND Dictionary

Displaying Items 1 through 1
Definitions
sudden
adj

1. Happening or done quickly, without warning or unexpectedly.

Thesaurus: hasty, swift, abrupt, hurried, immediate, instantaneous, precipitate, impromptu, startling; Antonym: slow, expected.

Derivative: suddenly
adverb

Derivative: suddenness
noun

Idiom: all of a sudden

Without any warning; unexpectedly.

Etymology: 14c: from French soudain, from Latin subire to come or go stealthily.


So, this dictionary calls it an Idiom, as does The American Heritage Dictionary

I found a large number of postings on this very subject (the vs. a) at Pain In The English, running from Sept 2005 through Sept 2007.

Finally, the Online Etymology Dictionary has under its entry for sudden:

Phrase all of a sudden first attested 1681, earlier of a sudayn (1596), upon the soden (1558).


So it seems this phrase has been in use in one form or another for over four centuries!
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Postby Perry » Tue Oct 09, 2007 9:05 am

All of a is an idiom in its own right. For instance, to show excitement, "I'm all of a quiver".

There is the similar come over (become). He came over all faint.
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Postby sluggo » Sun Oct 14, 2007 2:12 am

Perry wrote:All of a is an idiom in its own right. For instance, to show excitement, "I'm all of a quiver".


I've only heard this as all a-quiver, never with of.

All of a sudden would seem to follow form of all at once, all on a winter's day and maybe by extension all in a day's work.

Putting "all of the sudden" through The Google mill rendered surprisingly numerous results (even though The Google, despite its name, ignores the) including the lively discussion noted by Larry above which is worth checking out. Indications are that it seems a Southern habit, though I've never heard it in a lifetime of travelling through and living in the South. Interesting mystery.

Say, what's with the margins on this page (or lack thereof) all of a sudden??
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Postby Bailey » Sun Oct 14, 2007 8:57 am

I've only heard this as all a-quiver

how often by a man?

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Postby sluggo » Sun Oct 14, 2007 12:01 pm

Bailey wrote:
I've only heard this as all a-quiver

how often by a man?

mark thinks-it's-a-woman's-expression Bailey


Never thought to count, and interesting question though I'm not inclined to touch it. :P I presume you refer to the expression itself and not the particular form?

I was torn on whether aquiver would be hyphenated; I see it's used both ways. I can't really make sense out of how all of a quiver would work logically but either way it seems more along the lines of Perry's came over/became notation, a usage I have only ever heard uttered by Brits. Presumably the common element there is all.
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Postby sluggo » Tue Oct 16, 2007 8:19 pm

dsteve54 wrote:... I some times think I am hearing "allthsudden" when maybe it is "allasudden".


Maybe you were actually hearing the voiced F of of as a th: "allvasudden"
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various words missing

Postby dsteve54 » Sun Oct 21, 2007 5:48 pm

In reading the various entries on this thread, I was just wondering whether there is simply some kind of
"syntactic drift" going on, depending on some regions of the country.

I think most languages (e.g. Indo-European for sure....look at decreasing importance of inflection), tend to evolve out of convenience; I could say "laziness", but that connotes a value judgement.

I had NEVER heard, in my region:
all of "a/the/<whatever>" sudden" fully articulated; nor have I ever heard:
"all of a quiver".

Even IF these drawn out versions are correct English per some central authority (who, I have no idea, maybe England), it is almost irrelevant in linguistic terms. In my particular region, it would sound stilted to say "all of a quiver" (one BARELY hears 'all a-quiver' there) or "all-of-a-sudden", word by word.

You can take the most learned English person from a university and they are not going to pronounce "bottle" in their everyday conversation as "boT-Tle", fully annunciating the T's. They will simply say "boddle", or maybe in certain dialects, there may be a glottal stop. To do otherwise would sound "foreign", which is fine. We may hear a non-English speaker say "bottle" with fully annunciated T's, but we just process the gestalt of the situation. We may note it as "quaint" or "cute", but we have an idea of what is happening. I doubt that such an utterance would be evaluated mentally as, "Ok, this guy is an idiot".

That is just an analogy, but maybe the same is going on syntactically. One can try to insist that this or that is "correct", but unless you are H.L. Mencken, Edwin Newman, Jonathon Swift, or some other grammatical policeman, it just does no good, depending on the region. One could simply sound alien trying to "do the right thing".

Having said all of the above, I will point out that in my original post, I WAS asking for "correct English", so it does signal grammar police to come front and center, and I did receive a sense of the correct syntax.

Also, as opposed to some websites where people are just about ready to kill each other over some fine grammatical point, this particular website seems to approach things linguistically. It simply seems to be more of an observational bent, rather than a prescriptive bent. And I happen to like that. We could, in contrast, all be sitting around parsing every single presentation on this BB to within an inch of our lives until everyone is brow-beaten into never making an entry again. I am glad that is not the case.

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Postby Bailey » Sun Oct 21, 2007 6:15 pm

Well, we have had, from time to time our share of Grammar Nazi's.

But we've learned that it doesn't pay to argue along the prescriptivist lines. Language grows and changes, I was always on the side of the angels, btw, I believed in a static set of rules. I'm sittin' back a'waiting the results of this.

mark shouldn't-that-be-cya? Bailey

Personally I Hate that glottal stop in the middle of double consonents, and prefer of[t]en to offen.

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Postby dsteve54 » Sun Oct 21, 2007 6:24 pm

If need be, I will be a proud representative of the teeming mongol hordes from the bowels of Kansas. :D
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