Woulda, coulda, shoulda
News orgs are reporting that Dennis Hastert, in a Q&A on the Mark Foley scandal on Monday, was asked if the GOP leadership should have done more to investigate after getting the e-mails.
"Woulda, coulda, shoulda," Mr. Hastert said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
But the New York Times — and the official transcript — rendered it differently: "Would have, could have, should have."
So which was right?
The AP Stylebook covers the topic:
Do not use substandard spellings such as gonna or wanna in attempts to convey regional dialects or informal pronunciations, except to help a desired touch in a feature.Still, I don't have a problem with the LAT version; in fact, I prefer it.
Woulda, coulda, shoulda seems more an idiom than just an informal pronunciation.
I can see an argument for a reporter choosing either way. But I can't come up with a good reason for a copy editor to change it on the desk.