Tuesday, October 03, 2006

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.


At 4:51 PM, October 03, 2006, Blogger Bill said...

Yep, I woulda left it.

At 8:33 AM, October 04, 2006, Blogger Andy Bechtel said...

I like it as is because of the sports reference. Coaches often use "woulda coulda shoulda" to explain away losses. Hastert may be doing the same thing here.


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