plural people

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Apr 12 17:38:54 UTC 2006

At 12:59 PM -0400 4/12/06, George Thompson wrote:
>Well, when we say "the Smiths are coming", we mean two or more people.
>When a broadcaster refers to "the Mantles" or whoever, when speaking of
>"playing on the same outfield grass as the Mantles and the diMaggios",
>he's only referring to one person, not to Mantle, his wife and sons.

Don't we mean "players of the kind instantiated by Mantle and
DiMaggio" rather than referring to those specific players themselves?
I think the plurals really do presuppose there's an ilk, as when I
might assert my old fartness by bemoaning the absence of the
Clementes and Sniders and Mayses of the good old days.


>George A. Thompson
>Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
>Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: FRITZ JUENGLING <juengling_fritz at SALKEIZ.K12.OR.US>
>Date: Wednesday, April 12, 2006 11:54 am
>Subject: Re: plural people
>>  George,
>>  out of curiosity, why does it strike you as being "pointless,
>>  inane, and stupid"?
>>  What about pluralizing names of people who are not ballplayers,
>>  e.g. "The Smiths are coming to dinner tonight" or that old phrase
>>  'Keep up with the Joneses"?
>>  fritz
>>  >>> george.thompson at NYU.EDU 4/12/2006 8:16 AM >>>
>>  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:
>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>>  The American Dialect Society -
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list