Favorite

Words 

Roy Reed writes:

“I just finished reading this sentence in the Times: ‘She joins 16 other siblings, all with names beginning with the letter J and including a couple brothers old enough to be her father.' When (and why on earth) did your newspaper decide to stop saying ‘a couple of brothers'? I see this construction every day in one paper or another. Was there a big meeting of editors somewhere when the decision was made to stop using ‘of'' after couple? I'm the last to hear anything.”

The meeting was at Rupert Murdoch's place, and essentially he said that unless everybody stopped using “of” after “couple,” he'd buy up all the newspapers and make them all carry “Mallard Fillmore” and “George Will.” People caved in pretty quickly after that.

Were we not under duress, of course the Times wouldn't say “a couple brothers.” We remember what Bryan A. Garner said in his Dictionary of Modern American Usage:

“Omitting the of is slipshod in such a construction as this: ‘Is a used toilet seat worth $1 million? Or even a couple [read couple of] hundred thousand dollars?' … In other words, using couple not as a noun but as an adjective is poor usage: instead of a couple days ago, say a couple of days ago.”

n Mike Watts writes:

“A column about the possible new duties of the mayor referred to ‘filling vacancies on lessor boards and commissions … ‘ I didn't realize that we had a bunch of city entities dealing with landlords and other owners of leased property.”

As a former tenant, I think a commission regulating landlords would be a good idea.

n “ Fujita had an even more daunting critic to appease: his lovely wife, Jaclyn … ‘As soon as she heard the word “waterslide,” she called me a jacka**,' Fujita said.”

Words once confined to army barracks are now heard on prime-time television, yet some editor balked at jackass. Whether pinned on “a male donkey” or “a contemptibly foolish or stupid person,” jackass is acceptable even in politer society.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Doug Smith

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Most Shared

  • Obamascare

    Republicans at long last may be about to see their most fervent wishes and wildest predictions materialize — millions of people losing their medical and hospital coverage, unaffordable insurance, lost jobs, a Medicare financial crisis, mushrooming federal budget deficits and fiscal crises across state governments.
  • Megyn vs. Alex

    As vigorously hyped broadcast events go, Megyn Kelly's televised confrontation with internet conspiracy cultist Alex Jones proved something of a dud.
  • Monkey wrenches

    Junior is 17 now, and shows no interest in driving, or even taking the driving test. It's got his Old Man a little concerned, and not just because we're running a car service for one these days.

Latest in Words

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

June

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Cops and juries

    • Autumn, it was good to hear your perspective. I typed a response a couple of…

    • on June 26, 2017
  • Re: Megyn vs. Alex

    • But I do agree with him about the interview - Megyn Kelly rocked. Ridicule works.

    • on June 23, 2017
  • Re: Megyn vs. Alex

    • Good point. Your ratios don't make much sense, but a good point. I was not…

    • on June 23, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation