plural people

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed Apr 12 15:16:38 UTC 2006

For msome years I have been struck (and annoyed) at the habit of some
sports broadcasters of pluralizing the last names of ball-players;
referring to "the diMaggios, the Mantles, the Berras" and so forth.
It has always struck me as pointless, inane and stupid.  But it turns
out to have a long history, as in the following:

        William Whiteman.  [he’s been returned to Sing Sing, with a
request from the magistrates that “from peculiar circumstances” he not
be punished for having escaped; the deputy keeper: he violated the
rules and must be punished, and] all the recommendations of the
Hopson’s, Lownd’s, and Dickey Riker’s, should not alter the
        Morning Courier & New-York Enquirer, February 14, 1833, p. 2,
col. 2

[Background story: William Whiteman was a perpetrator who had escaped
from Sing Sing and been rearrested in NYC shortly after for another
burglary.  At the time, escaping from Sing Sing, or attempting to, was
punished by flogging.  The "peculiar circumstances” are probably that
he gave up some other villain.  Hopson, Lowndes and Riker were all
police court judges.]

Thus it is proven once again that our ancestors were pointless, inane
and stupid.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

The American Dialect Society -

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