First query after vacation

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Sep 9 23:32:26 UTC 2003

At 3:28 PM -0500 9/9/03, Erin McKean wrote:
>I think this is possibly just an extreme generalization of the "rule"
>that says longer utterances always make the speaker sound smarter or
>more important. He's just extending it to words, and since there are
>only a few ways to make individual words longer, he settled on
>unnecessary pluralization.
>editor at

There is a tendency to extend utterances to achieve pomposity, as
noted by Aristotle (he calls it "oikos") and a few others since, and
that's what Orwell was after in his ridicule of the not un-
construction ("One can cure oneself of the not un  formation by
memorizing this sentence:  A not unblack dog was chasing a not
unsmall rabbit across a not ungreen field"), but I don't that that's
what's going on with Bloomberg.  In fact, I don't think there's one
single factor involved here.  I agree with Geoff Nathan that the
"ways" below is not a true plural, but an informal variant that shows
up in e.g. "It's down there a ways", although that's a different
context from the one below.  The "moneys" I assume is from
Bloomberg's earlier incarnation as a financial honcho--I've never
understood when it's used, but it's used in financial circles--they
talk about mingling moneys from different sources and such.  I
haven't heard him refer to Joe Torre as Torres, but Bloomberg isn't
the Yankee fan Giuliani was (nor the Italian), and assuming he wasn't
just pandering to the Hispanic vote, this was probably a simple
mistake.  This one is not pluralization in any case.  Nor is
Bloomberg, admittedly no great public speaker, someone who seems in
general concerned with trying to pump himself up or make himself
appear smarter or more important, at least as far as I've seen.


>>Hello all,
>>What weird Boston affectation would make a Johns Hopkins/Harvard educated
>>man pluralize words that shouldn't be? For example, ""It appears an event
>>took place in Canada, and that the load shedding that perhaps they should
>>have done was not done in a ways that prevented the New York power grid
>>form having to try to supply power."
>>He's also regularly says moneys (when not necessary) and referred to Yankee
>>manager Joe Torre as Torres.
>>I've heard of the intrusive R, but an intrusive S?
>>Other insights on the speech of  New York politicians welcome.
>>Kathleen E. Miller
>>Research Assistant to William Safire
>>The New York Times

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