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Exact same

December 18, 2006

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I gathered some statistics to help elucidate some of the claims being made. I searched for occurrences of the three idioms in the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), the British National Corpus (BNC), and a 3.5-million-word collection of student essays from several states (essays).

"All of a sudden" occurs 5,225 times in COCA, 393 times in BNC, and 45 times in essays. "All of the sudden" occurs 204 times in COCA, never in BNC, and 10 times in essays. "All the sudden" occurs 56 times in COCA, never in BNC, and once in essays. Apparently, "all (of) the sudden" is American English, not British.

COCA tells the date of each citation. "All the sudden" was not found in any of its texts dated 1990-1992, and only once in 1993. It peaked at ten instances in 2007. This is probably too small a sample to be definitive, but it suggests that "all the sudden" is a fairly new expression. (Of course, I've excluded phrases like "Why all the sudden interest?" from my search. We're only looking at synonyms for "suddenly".)

Gwillim Law November 25, 2009, 10:00am

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