I literally spent 8 minutes (I can tell cause I listened to Madonna's "4 Minutes" twice, which conceivably should be about eight minutes long) trying to determine when to use "fast" and when to use "quick."

I tend to get anal about our MindTouch press releases and newsletters when it comes to phrasing and grammar (amusing, I'm sure, given the atrocity that is this tabulas). Because of this, I try to read through all our public releases at least once.

One line in a email newsletter caught my eye today: "For those of you in need of vendor-backed support, we have updated our support plans for our Enterprise customers with response times as fast as four hours and emergency bug escalation."

Can anybody catch what would bug me? "... as fast as four hours"

It's was my previous understanding that fast is a function of speed, while quick is a function of time. The implication being that something that is fast naturally has a lot of speed (you don't describe a car as quick), while quick is something that happens in a short period of time. You don't describe Tywon Lawson as fast (3360 hits on Google), but you certainly describe him as quick (33,600 hits on Google).

So which is it? Do we have response times as fast as four hours or as quick as four hours? I thought it'd be pretty clearly quick, but it didn't feel right. The explicit time to response ("four hours") which seems to set a time period throws off the whole flow of the sentence. (And of course, we lose the whole alliterative aspect; as fast as four sounds nice). I'm also pretty sure "as fast as" is one of those phrases you can't break up (what are those called, again?)

After about 30 minutes, I've resolved to leave the sentence alone. Pretty pointless, huh?

Edit: A Google search seems to back up the etymology of fast vs. quick. On LiveJournal, of all places...

Posted by roy on May 13, 2008 at 06:19 PM in Ramblings | 5 Comments

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Comment posted on May 13th, 2008 at 07:21 PM
while you were working on that, I saved the world two times.
Comment posted on May 13th, 2008 at 09:45 PM
holy crap, you're hip.
Comment posted on May 13th, 2008 at 09:53 PM
I'm a big fan of pointy boobs.
Comment posted on May 13th, 2008 at 09:56 PM
....... aaaannnnd you just lost all my respect.
Comment posted on May 13th, 2008 at 11:02 PM
...says the JT fan.