[Ads-l] Antedates for "Team X"?

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 17 22:45:46 UTC 2019

Ben Zimmer's "Word Routes" column indicates that "The general form of
'Team X' dates back to the 1970s at least", and he gives the example
of "Team USA" in hockey.


I executed a few searches to explore the distinctive ordering
displayed in the schema "Team X". There are quite a few examples of
"Red Team" and "Green Team" in the newspapers.com database, but it
appears that instances of "Team Red" and "Team Green" are relatively
uncommon. Below is a citation.

I recognize that "Team (Nation)", "Team (Person)", "Team (Character)",
and "Team (Company)" differ from "Team (Color)".

Date: October 3, 1951
Newspaper: The Record-Argus
Newspaper Location: Greenville, Pennsylvania
Article: Sports Notes
Author: Bill Antill
Quote Page 8, Column 3
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
On paper, teams look good. On the field, they are disappointing.
Teams that whip one opponent readily fail to defeat to elevens which
were beaten by that same team. For instance, Team Green may wallop
Team Red. Team Red licks Team White. Team White turns about and sets
down Team Green. Records are deceptive.
[End excerpt]

Here is an example circa 1928 (unverifed) of 'team "white"' and 'team
"black"', Interestingly, the passage quickly reverts to "white team"
and "black team".

Year: 1927 to 1929
Periodical: The Classroom Teacher
Volume 5
Quote Page 111
Database: Google Books snippet; metadata may be inaccurate; search for
1927 reveals a snippet specifying 1927 as the copyright year;
HathiTrust matches show the year as 1928 and 1929

[Begin excerpt]
The players are seated, and one half of the room represents team
"white" and the other half team "black." The leader has a large card
which is white on one side and black on the other, and he tosses this
card into the air so that it will fall on the teacher's desk. If the
card falls with the white side up, the white team then tries to make
the members of the black team laugh and one point is scored for the
white team for every member of the black team who laughs.
[End excerpt]


On Sun, Nov 17, 2019 at 12:16 PM Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> I’m referring to the use of “Team X” where X is a character in a TV series or (by extension?) in a book, in whom those who profess to be on the “team” have a rooting interest. See for example the end of this excerpt from “Cult of the Literary Sad Woman”, Leslie Jamison’s cover essay in this weekend’s NYTBR:
> I needed blueprints for my epic sadness, and no one captured epic sadness as well as Jean Rhys, especially — and unapologetically — in her 1939 novel, “Good Morning, Midnight.” The novel’s antiheroine, Sasha, tries to drink herself to death in a cheap Paris hotel room — haunted by her lost youth, her botched romances and the ghost of her infant son, who died at 5 weeks old. As soon as I read the first scene, in which a stranger chides Sasha for crying at a bar (“Sometimes I’m just as unhappy as you are. But that’s not to say that I let everybody see it”), I knew which team I was on: Team Sasha, Team Rhys, Team Drunk-Crying-in-Public.
> https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/07/books/review/leslie-jamison-sylvia-plath-joan-didion-jean-rhys.html <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/07/books/review/leslie-jamison-sylvia-plath-joan-didion-jean-rhys.html>
> I first remember coming across this use in blogs and reviews discussing Breaking Bad (“Team Walt”, “Team Jesse”, “Team Hank”, as in https://www.reddit.com/r/breakingbad/comments/1ie6hp/team_hank_or_team_walt/ <https://www.reddit.com/r/breakingbad/comments/1ie6hp/team_hank_or_team_walt/>) and similar popular series with (sorta) bad guys and (sorta) good guys demanding empathy, but I’m sure it’s popped up elsewhere on the web (and beyond).  Presumably its origin is a transference from “Team USA” and other sports contexts.  I don’t have access to the OED today for some reason, but I would be (pleasantly) surprised if there’s a relevant lemma there.  Maybe it’s been discussed by Ben and/or in Language Log posts.
> Afterthought:
> D’oh!  Of course it has been:  https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2043 <https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2043>
> Anyway, nice work, Ben!  But I wonder if the extension to high(er), or at least older, culture is a new thing.  Team Rhett vs. Team Ashley? Team Jules vs. Team Jim? Team Edgar vs. Team Heathcliff?  Team Macbeth vs. Team Macduff? Team Hephaestus vs. Team Ares?  Team God vs. Team Satan?
> LH
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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