"Alligator Arms" (1985)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Dec 20 01:42:47 UTC 2005

Barry sez:

>ALLIGATOR ARMS--2,420 Google hits
>OT: ADS-L (_www.amerikcandialect.org_ (http://www.amerikcandialect.org) ) is
>still  not working.
>The Washington Redskins are destroying my Dallas Cowboys. WR Terry  Glenn
>missed a pass over the middle of the field. The announcer said it
>was a  case of
>"alligator arms." Even if he'd have put his arms out, they'd have been  hit.
Speaking of NFC East lingo, I heard Tom Coughlin, head coach of the
Giants in an interview this afternoon on WFAN refer several times to
defensive positions he called "the Mike", "the Will", and "the Sam",
clearly in context indicating respectively the Middle, Weak-side, and
Strong-side linebackers.  ("Strong" designates the side of the line
of scrimmage on which the tight end is located and "weak" the other
side.) The previously unfamiliar to me "Mike", "Will", and "Sam", in
other words, function as initialistic codes of the same sort as
"Able", "Baker", and "Charlie", well known from military lingo, and
as it happens Coughlin is known as a sort of paramilitary head coach.
(Is there a name for that practice?  I was just in Berlin, where I
passed by the still-so-called, but fortunately no longer in use,
"Checkpoint Charlie".)


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