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  1. vectra's Avatar
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    #1

    a storm in a teacup

    Hello everyone,

    What would you say to the following comments?

    I have never heard anyone say "a storm in a teacup". It's always "a tempest in a teacup". You can see that the alliteration is important in this expression.
    You can't really say that someone will "throw their book at someone". This is fixed as "throw the book at someone". It's always "the".
    The word "tempest" is so archaic that it's doubtful that the expression "tempest in a teapot" originated in America. This has to be one of those British expressions that the British have stopped using but that remain in the US and Canada. They have also stopped using the participle "gotten" and stopped using "fall" to mean "autumn", both of which came from Britain also, so it's not unusual that they would lose an expression like that.
    we don't use British slang where I live.

    With "storm" it sounds to me like someone trying to simplify the real expression for ESL learners.
    Sometimes people and publishers do simplify the English language for that purpose. Since I had never heard the expression said that way outside an ESL context, I assumed it was one of these simplifications.

    These are exchanges of opinion about the idiom 'a storm in a teacup' between an American scholar living in Detroit and some people living in Europe. Is it possible that people in America have never heard about this expression, I mean 'a storm in a teacup'?

    Thank you for the time and help.

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    #2

    Re: a storm in a teacup

    Hi vectra,

    Probably you have never seen also the book “The Masters” by C. P. Shaw.

    Here is a brief excerpt of it:

    “Perhaps it is a storm in a tea-cup,” said Crawford… “Still we must try and calm things down.”

    a storm in a tea-cup = une tempete dans un verre d’eau = exiatre fluctus in simpulo

    = major commotion over a trivial matter, major fuss over an unimportant issue

    http://www.answers.com/a%20storm%20in%20a%20teacup

    V.

  2. vectra's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: a storm in a teacup

    Hello Vil,
    The reson I posted this question is when I first created my cartoon based on the idioms we study at my university, I used the idiom 'a storm in a teacup', the one I have been using since my student days.
    Then I received some comments from native speakers, including some from the USA. They pointed out that they use 'a tempest in a teacup'.
    I got curious as I had never come across this expression before, and posted this question on this forum.
    As for me, I stick to BrE as it is the official policy of my university.
    Thank you for such a prompt reply.

  3. 5jj's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: a storm in a teacup

    Quote Originally Posted by vectra View Post

    I have never heard anyone say "a storm in a teacup". It's always "a tempest in a teacup". You can see that the alliteration is important in this expression.
    I, a speaker of Br E, have heard only 'a storm in a teacup'; that is the expression I use.
    5
    Last edited by 5jj; 08-Jan-2011 at 23:52.

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    #5

    Re: a storm in a teacup

    That's what one British sourse says
    Tempest in a teapot

  4. Route21's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: a storm in a teacup

    Hi vectra

    Many thanks, Vil, for the reference. As a NES (Brit), I have never ever come across the term a "tempest in a teacup" before, even though I have regularly worked with many American colleagues . It appears to be an exclusively American term. As your (Vil's) reference says, the British version predates the American version by hundreds of years!

    The term "fall" is an American expression, as noted in fall - definition of fall by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia. which quotes from both American and British English dictionaries. The Brittish seasons have always been spring, summer, autumn and winter.

    "Gotten" is also exclusively American: gotten - definition of gotten by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.

    Sorry, vectra, but you can't blame any of them as originating from the UK or representing British slang!

    I trust that your original comments were "tongue in cheek".

    Best regards
    R21

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    #7

    Re: a storm in a teacup

    Quote Originally Posted by Route21 View Post
    The term "fall" is an American expression, as noted in fall - definition of fall by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia. which quotes from both American and British English dictionaries.
    That's right.
    The Brittish seasons have always been spring, summer, autumn and winter.
    But this is not true. Autumn or Fall?, http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?...earchmode=none

  5. BobK's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: a storm in a teacup

    Quote Originally Posted by vectra View Post
    ...
    Then I received some comments from native speakers, including some from the USA. They pointed out that they use 'a tempest in a teacup'.
    ...
    What part of the USA? Maybe parts of the USA with large French or Spanish linguistic backgrounds prefer a word that sounds more like tempÍte or tempesta. I, like many other British contributors, have never heard 'tempest in a tea-cup'.

    b

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    #9

    Re: a storm in a teacup

    Quote Originally Posted by Route21 View Post
    I doubt this one (actually the others too, but this one in particular).

    I think "gotten" was the original past participle of "get", as illustrated by derivatives such as "forgotten", "begotten", and perhaps most tellingly, "ill-gotten" (as in ill-gotten gains).

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    #10

    Re: a storm in a teacup

    Quote Originally Posted by orangutan View Post
    I doubt this one (actually the others too, but this one in particular).

    I think "gotten" was the original past participle of "get", as illustrated by derivatives such as "forgotten", "begotten", and perhaps most tellingly, "ill-gotten" (as in ill-gotten gains).
    Old English didn't have the verb at all. It existed only in compounds. Here's what OED has to say about the Middle English version:

    The forms of pa. pple. retaining the original vowel (ON. getten) are found in literature down to the 16th c., and in the north midlands and Yorkshire getten is still the dialectal form. From the beginning of the English history of the vb., however, it has, like most verbs with ME. open e in the present stem, tended to assume the conjugation of vbs. of the e, a, o, series (originally confined to roots ending in a liquid); thus in the 13th c. we find geten, gat, goten parallel with stelen, stal, stolen. In the 16th c. the pa. t. was often got by assimilation to the pa. pple.; in the 17th c. this became the usual form, though gat is used in the Bible of 1611 and still occurs in archaistic poetry. I England the form gotten of the pa. pple. is almost obsolete (exc. dial.) being superseded by got; in U.S. literature gotten is still very common, although Webster 1864 gave it as 'obsolescent'.

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