Apropos of very little, I thought I’d mention a new verbal meme I’ve noticed. It’s in the same vein as saying like a lot or using goes instead of said (as in, “and then he goes…”). This meme has to do with the phrase “all of a sudden.” Have you noticed how nobody says that anymore? Instead, it’s “all of the sudden.” This phrase even appeared in a quote in a biography of a young star that I edited recently. The proofreader queried whether it was a typo.
Now, I’m not saying that using “all of the sudden” is necessarily bad. It’s true that I’m a self-confessed grammar curmudgeon—but I also embrace the evolutionary nature of language. In fact, I’m possibly the biggest defender of “text speak” that you’ll meet in the editorial trenches (and not just because about 95% of my cell phone time is spent texting versus talking). So if “all of the sudden” is the new way people say it, then I suppose I can crawl on board.
But, language-obsessed person that I am, I don’t want to use this phrase if it’s not an acceptable alternative to “all of a sudden.” And, I have to say, it does sound pretty funny to my ears.
I turned to Internet discussions of the subject, namely here and here, to see if this has indeed become an acceptable saying. My sources suggest that, even though idioms are undoubtedly shaped by widespread usage—and there’s no question that “all of the sudden” is spreading like wildfire—the preferred way to say the phrase is still “all of a sudden.” So, even if it marks me as old school, I think I’ll stick with “all of a sudden,” thank you very much!