TGIF: That Gerund Is Funky (July 11)

soccergrammar

TGIF. In the world of Glosso news this week: singular soccer grammar; rude Somali nicknames; a “Strunk and White for Spies”; and what makes American literature American?

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9Gag makes a gag about World Cup teams (or lack thereof) — but the comments underneath the soccer meme address a much more serious issue: football grammar. Germany have a team? Since when is a singular country a plural subject? Since when it comes to footie, it seems. (An earlier Glossophilia post also walked us through this strange anomaly found in soccer language, at least on one side of the pond …)

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Indha Yare (Small Eyes), Dhega Cas (Red Ears), Jilbo Weyne (Knock Knees), Shigshigaaye (Stutterer), and Wershe (Cross-Eyed): these aren’t characters in a nasty comic-book, but real names bestowed and heard in the Horn of Africa. The BBC reports on Somalia’s love of ‘rude’ nicknames.

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mental_floss gives us 11 grammar lessons from the CIA’s handbook. Yes, a copy of the Directorate of Intelligence Style Manual & Writer’s Guide for Intelligence Publications — or, as mental_floss called it, the “Strunk and White for Spies” — made its way online, and here’s an excerpt from the spooks’ guide to intelligent writing: “Phrases like the following betray sloppy thinking and detract from any serious presentation: anything can happen; it is not possible to predict; further developments are to be expected; it is too early to tell; it remains to be seen; only the future will tell.Its list of pretentious words is pretty good too (apprise, citizenry, contradistinction, effectuate, enunciate, eventuate, evince, and opine). And finally, we’re told not to confuse the words nonconventional and unconventional, using what mental_floss describes as perhaps the greatest example sentence juxtaposition of all time: “Nonconventional refers to high-tech weaponry short of nuclear explosives. Fuel-air bombs are effective nonconventional weapons. Unconventional means not bound by convention. Shirley Chisholm was an unconventional woman.”

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Damian Fowler writes in the Paris Review about the varying temperaments of British and American storytelling. What marks literature as American?

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