"Rock paper scissors" vs. "Rock scissors paper"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Sep 13 18:11:05 UTC 2006

At 5:33 PM +0000 9/13/06, James Callan wrote:
>I realized the other day that, while I almost always call the game
>"rock scissors paper," it's far more popularly known as "rock paper
>scissors." (I know Google results aren't gospel, but 58,700 vs.
>2,000,000 is a victory of several significant decimal places. Plus,
>the game's World Society uses Rock Paper Scissors.)
>Is there any regional variation in which order people use for the 3
>elements of this game, or is this just my own quirk?

The variant I grew up with in NYC was the more complex "Rock Paper
Scissors Match", although "Rock Scissors Paper Match" might have been
used as well.  (Those would have been the only two possible
sequences, though.)  Match is crushed by rock and cut by scissors but
burns paper.  Anyone else on my side of the isogloss?

A recent televised version (on Bravo?) of the national championship
of RPS referred to it as "Rock Paper Scissors" rather than
"Roshambo".  As did the write-ups of the recent court case in which a
Japanese judge resorted to RPS to determine whether whether
Christie's or Sotheby's should have the right to sell off an art
collection valued at more than $20 million (cf. Carol Vogel, "Rock,
Paper, Payoff: Child's Play Wins Auction House an Art Sale," New York
Times, April 29, 2005, A1).


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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