Date: Wed, 25 Jan 1995 23:45:27 -0500 From: "William H. Smith" Subject: Tidbits At the SECOL meeting in Memphis it was noted that eavesdropping was the worst form of data collection. Nevertheless, I report the results of eavesdropping there. I overheard an African-American woman, probably from the Chicago church group that was staying at the hotel, say to her friend, "She's got a lot of nieces and thing." I asked Michael Montgomery and Walt Wolfram if "and thing" was not a Gullah puralizer, and both answered "No." My question was misstated; Ambrose Gonzales reported that "'n' t'ing" was a Gullah collectivizer; so "nieces and thing" would mean "nieces and nephews." Of course, if she really were speaking Gullah, the "and thing" would have been redundant, since "niece" in Gullah is unmarked for sex ( I was referred to by a speaker in Colleton county, SC, as my uncle's "niece." That SECOL meeting included a presentation on the use of the past perfect for recent past events. Shortly afterwards I returned an item to the local Belks store. The clerk had to take the sales slip to the office for approval of the refund. Since there were other itiems on the slip, I asked for it when she returned. She replied, "I had just tookened it to the office." Aside from the triple participle, the event referred to occurred only moments before. Adding to the spread of superfluous prepositions introducing relative clauses, Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation (26 June 1994), in referring to the subject of a book (the name of neither of which I recorded) said, "...on whom the book [...] was written about." Michael, it isn't just college students in written assignments. By the way, Michael, in the ADS Centennial on usage your article uses "they" with "every student" as antecedent. Is singular "they" now acceptable usage?