Friday, June 27, 2014

They're annoying, these commentators

Reading books by John McWhorter, Columbia University linguist, and listening to lectures by Anne Curzan, University of Michigan English professor, I have learned, or at least tried to learn, to be more patient with how other people write and talk. After all, if two of the nation's foremost experts on the English language can tolerate, and in fact see nothing wrong with, prepositions at the ends of sentences, the word ain't and even such words as like and you know thrown into practically every sentence, shouldn't I be able to at least make an effort to do the same?

My resolve has been sorely tested, however, while watching World Cup matches on television. Some of the commentators, at least the British ones, repeatedly say things like this:

"They can't hold the lead, Argentina."

"He's really going to have to get into the game, Rodriquez."

"They're trying to keep the squeeze on here, Japan"

Is this the way people talk in Great Britain? Have these announcers been listening to each other too much and picked up bad habits? Is it really necessary to use both a personal pronoun and the noun it represents in the same simple sentence?

McWhorter and Curzan, I'm sure, would find this way of speaking very interesting, and if they are soccer fans they have probably already noticed it. I doubt they would criticize it, however, because they rarely criticize anything, except perhaps intolerance toward how other people speak.

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