SIR: A story in my newspaper quoted a man as saying, "Many of the companies haven't woken up to the call of competition." Wouldn't "awakened" have been better than "woken up"? - Dean M.

ANSWER: "Waked up" would probably have been better than either "woken up," which is considered a regionalism in this country, or "awakened." But there's something else to consider here. "Woken" is in a direct quotation, and if that's what the man said, I see no good reason to change it. After all, "woken" is acceptable - and pretty common - in England. Maybe the man was English.SIR: Which is correct, "at about 7:30 a.m." or "about 7:30 a.m."? And why? - Rebecca B.

ANSWER: Some people complain that "at about" is redundant, but don't you pay them any mind. It's perfectly all right to say either "at about 7:30 a.m." or "about 7:30 a.m." Unless, of course, it's some other time entirely.

Wry comment of the week, from Ted K.:

"A newspaper item told me that `thongs' in a foreign country took to the streets to celebrate something. It didn't say whether the thongs were made of leather or whether they were as entertaining as the California Dancing Raisins, but I'll bet they were."

Send questions, comments, and good and bad examples to Lydel Sims, Watch Your Language, P.O. Box 161280, Memphis, TN 38186. If you quote a book, please give author, title and page number. Sorry, but questions can be answered only through this column.

- Lydel Sims of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis writes this column weekly.