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Two NFC teams were hit hardest by injuries last year. One already set the AGL record in 2016, while the other has a coach with the worst AGL since 2002. Also: the Rams' incredible bill of health in L.A., and Tampa Bay's questionable injury reporting.

21 Sep 2006

The Week in Quotes: September 21, 2006

compiled by Alex Carnevale


"... an outstanding coach and an even finer individual ... This is truly an example of good things happening to a good, hard-working person."

-- Bill Belichick, when his protégé Eric Mangini was hired as head coach of the New York Jets (New York Daily News)

"I don't care. You can scrutinize it all you want. Knock yourself out."

-- Belichick, on his frigid meeting on the field with Mangini after the win over the Jets this past Sunday.


"I'm just trying to coach our team. I'm just trying to coach the Patriots and make them a better football team and I have a lot of work to do."

-- Belichick

"That's really all I care about."

-- Belichick

"It's really not that big of a thing. I was thinking about the game, thinking about our team, thinking about what we need to do to win. That's what my job is about. That's what I care about."



"Let me know the next time you see two coaches kiss out there at midfield."

-- Belichick


"They handle football like a business."

-- Broncos RB Cedric Cobbs, on the New England Patriots organization (San Jose Mercury-News)

"Good game."

-- Belichick, on what he told Mangini after the game.


"I don't have TiVo."

-- Belichick


"I never at anytime in my career have gone into such detail. But I felt the responsibility, as Billy felt he was thrown under the bus. Billy threw this organization under the bus, along with a number of his teammates."

-- Jeff Fisher, Titans head coach (ESPN.com)

"He felt compelled to set a record straight, which is not accurate. His record and his comments were not accurate."

-- Fisher

"There's a difference between assuming a role as a starter and a backup role. There's a distinct difference between those two positions. In the club's opinion based on what transpired, he was not suited to be the starter."

-- Fisher

"If he wants to say that, he's going to say that. I'm not going to stand up here and argue with him. He's been a great coach for me for six years. When you're losing, when you're 0-2, every little small bruise turns into a large bruise."

-- Chargers backup QB Billy Volek


"We're now competing on that basis with places like New York, San Francisco ... Chicago and other major cities. This is just tremendous. People in New York and other places can't hardly believe what you all have done and people in this whole area have done."

-- Tom Benson, Saints owner (ESPN.com)

"I'll be wide-eyed a little bit just looking around and seeing what it's going to feel like for the next 10 years hopefully, the rest of my career. I've only seen it on television."

-- Saints QB Drew Brees (New Orleans Times-Picayune)


"If anything, the Superdome was a saving grace for a lot of people; it housed a lot of people and probably saved a lot of people. For that to have happened -- I think several people were killed and there was a suicide, that was horrible. But to think of all the people who were saved, you look at that arena as more than just a football stadium."

-- Brees

(Ed. note: It should be pointed out that the worst stories about the Superdome have generally turned out to be apocryphal.)


"It's a football game that we need to win. That's it. The more you win, the more hope you give to people, the more you lift their spirits. Win, win, win."

-- Brees


"There are no broken ribs."

-- Browns head coach Romeo Crennel (ESPN.com)


"I broke a rib."

-- Browns wideout Joe Jurevicius

"I broke one."

-- Jurevicius

"I took a hit, and it was kind of in a vulnerable area, but I am getting better."

-- Jurevicius


"I'll be out there very soon. I've always been able to play with pain."

-- Jurevicius

"We're answering questions we probably shouldn't even have to answer."

-- Jurevicius


"It's hard because it's not like baseball, where they play one game and then the next day they play again. We've got to wait a whole seven days to play to get that taste out of your mouth, man. We know we're a better team than that. That's what's so hard, because of the way we played."

-- Bucs RB Michael Pittman (Bradenton Herald)

"I worry about everyone's confidence when things don't go good. We've got to do a great job of rallying around him as a staff. I know our football team will do that. He's got to take responsibility to get better and I know he will."

-- Bucs coach Jon Gruden, on his team's quarterback, Chris Simms (St. Petersburg Times)

"He is 6-foot-5 and we have to eliminate that. Our pass protection has to be more aggressive. It can't be on the fringe. But we can't telegraph throws, either. We have to hasten our delivery and at times, throw the ball awkwardly. We can continue to have a lecture on this matter but let's do something about it. We've got to address this."

-- Jon Gruden


"Well, you know, you have to take responsibility for that. So, obviously the results that we want right now are not at the standards that we want. But, I am going to say this: I'm not going to throw in the towel. We're going to get back to work today, Carolina comes in here 0-2, and they're not feeling real good about themselves either."

-- Gruden

"I know Chris' first two starts last year didn't go by design, to say the least, and I am hoping that his play picks up significantly. There were some opportunities to make big plays in the game and we've got to make them. And until we do, we are going to struggle against good football teams."

-- The Grudester

"He couldn't have played much worse. Any time you throw the ball to the other team, it's unacceptable under any circumstances. If you do that, everything else that you do that's good doesn't matter. I think that's unacceptable."

-- 59-year-old whiz kid Paul Hackett, Bucs offensive coordinator


"Uh, no. It's going to be constant. It happened last year. It happened when John Elway was here. It happened in San Francisco with Joe Montana and Steve Young. This is football and it is great. It's great for talk radio, it's great for TV, but Jake has won a lot of games. Just because we started off a little slow, just like we did last year, doesn't mean it's the end of the world."

-- Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan, on the Broncos' QB controversy (Denver Post)


"Abraham's already chomping at the bit to get in on Monday night. He's saying that he's going to be there. That's definitely going to be a game-changer."

-- cornerback DeAngelo Hall on his Falcons teammate, DE John Abraham (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)


"We're confident he's coming back. When he's coming back ... nobody knows. I haven't even asked. Because I don't want to know."

-- Chiefs head coach Herman Edwards, on his concussed QB, Trent Green (Kansas City Star)

"I told him, 'It's on your schedule.' I'm just coaching the team. I don't worry about it. I'm coaching these guys."

-- Herm Edwards, on what he told Trent Green


"I'm bullet proof when it comes to quarterbacks now. I've dealt with. I'm not in fear anymore. You live it, you go with it and you play. We gotta play good defense, get better on defense and do some things better on offense."

-- Herman Edwards


"Believe me, in my wildest dreams, I could never anticipate a quarterback who goes (81) straight games then gets hurt in the first game. I mean, that's the furthest thing from my mind. That's almost like a nightmare reoccurring. You sit there and go, 'OK, what have I got to do?'"

-- Edwards


"I celebrate first downs all the time. I'm not gonna stop that. I'm an exciting player. If I do something exciting, I'm gonna show my actions."

-- Lions WR Roy Williams, after a victory elebration with his team down 10-0 (SI.com)

"But you were losing, 10-0."

-- Mitch Albom


"What does that mean? ... That means nothing to me. The score means nothing."

-- Roy Williams

"You can all run with this: We will win the game. I don't care who it's against. We will win the game as long as we do what we're supposed to do. That's my comment for the whole week."

-- Roy Williams

"No, because everyone believes what I said."

-- Williams


"This is what we want. There's a certain standard we want in how we're doing business."

-- Lions head coach Rod Marinelli

"I respect both of them. I definitely have the utmost respect for Coach Martz. I like the player he's turned me into, in terms of how I work and things like that."

-- Lions wideout Mike Williams


"The playing field has changed. It's like having a $50,000 house that now is worth $200,000."

-- NFL Network communications director Seth Palansky, on the network no longer being willing to accept placement on sports tiers (Kansas City Star)

"Once we have the surgery, the healing process will start."

-- Cowboys injury guru Terrell Owens (BlackAthlete.net)

"I remember John Mara saying to me, 'Now I know why you want to retire.'"

-- Giants GM Ernie Accorsi (New York Post), on what Mara said to him after Jay Feely's missed field goal.

"I think colleges are doing a much better job of preparing players for the NFL."

-- former Cowboys exec Gil Brandt (San Jose Mercury News)

"Players today are playing football year-round when they're growing up. There is no off-season at the high school and college level, between the lifting and voluntary practices. When they arrive at an NFL complex, you're getting a more complete player."

-- Brandt

"Damage control is one of the responsibilities that will come inevitably in this field. You have to learn to spin something like an arrest or a prison sentence into something less negative than the media normally would. Managing an image is not easy, but it's a part of the sports business that I've dealt with for the past 10 or so years."

-- Darren Prince, CEO of Prince Marketing Group, on the Maurice Clarett sentencing (Deadspin.com)

Send suggestions or pithy commentary to quotes [at] footballoutsiders [dot] com.

Posted by: Alex Carnevale on 21 Sep 2006

83 comments, Last at 22 Sep 2006, 9:56pm by Peter


by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 1:27pm

The article while Gil Brandt was quoted is interesting. Maybe the rise of the rookie starters comes from teams that have tried to extend their run and then engaged in a rapid retooling process. 'After all, the Ravens did it, and so can we.'

by michael (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 1:38pm

“The playing field has changed. It’s like having a $50,000 house that now is worth $200,000.�

click on my name for the original cite for this quote; i was wondering what the hell it meant until i looked up the Star.

Specifically, it refers to Time-Warner Cable not carrying NFL Network at all, because it want to do so as part of "specialty channel, available on a sports tier package only", whereas "The NFL Network wants the channel positioned on Time Warner’s basic digital cable."

by Adam (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 1:45pm

I don't get the Tech education quote.

by MadPenguin (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 1:53pm

I enjoy these threads. Those as a VT alum, I don't get the education quote either (i probably am walking into the joke by typing that.)

When I read these quotes its almost like overhearing a conversation, that almost makes sense but not quite.

Football players shouldn't talk so much. :-)

And just because, go hokies & steelers this weekend.

by geoff (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 2:01pm

Early nominee for 2006 season Most Improved: Headline writing for The Week in Quotes

by Goo (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 2:04pm

Me, neither. The expression is actually "champing at the bit", but Hall's english faux pas is hardly the worst indictment of VT -- especially when you consider Marcus Vick's tremendous body of work.

by RH (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 2:10pm

For Fisher to slam Volek like this is amazing. I'd even say unprecedented- I don't remember the last time Fisher criticized ANY outgoing player AT ALL. What the hell is going on in Nashville?

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 2:21pm

Was Roy Williams celebrating a touchdown or a first down?

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 2:23pm


RIght, but at this point, in our culture, chomping at the bit is probably more widely recognized, so I dont see a problem.

by John (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 2:44pm

I have never heard anyone ever use the phrase "champing at the bit" I've heard chomping at the bit many times, and use it myself.

by ammek (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 2:50pm

"He is 6-foot-5 and we have to eliminate that?"

What, are they planning to amputate below his knees?

by Dennis (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 2:52pm

I don't get the Virgina Tech reference either. And I've never heard "champing at the bit", always chomping.

As for the NFL-Time Warner thing, the NFL is right to an extent. You can't underestimate the power of the NFL - the Fox network would probably not exist today if they didn't get the NFL back in the early 90s. But the problem is the NFL network only has 8 games or whatever, and they are simulcast on broadcast channels in the local markets. If they had a full season of games, they'd have a lot more leverage.

by Steve Sandvik (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 2:52pm

Yes, but people say irregardless, too. The correct phrase is still "champing at the bit."

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 3:00pm

It looks to me like "champing" and "chomping" mean virtually the same thing: http://www.langston.com/English/

Also, according to the OED, "chomp" is "now a widespread variant of 'champ.'"

So frankly, I'm not sure it even makes sense to criticize somebody for replacing "champing" with "chomping."

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 3:05pm

Besides which, how is "champ" pronounced? Within the context of a language's evolution (and with some understanding of the English language's evolution), "champ" was probably pronounced something close to "chomp" and that is why a spelling change eventually evolved.

And did Hall write those words? Or did he say them, and some reporter transcribed them as "chomp"? Who's to say Hall didn't mean/say "champ" but it sounded like "chomp" to the reporter?

Cliches get botched ALL THE TIME ("tote the line"? "Shadow of their own end zone?"), but it seems petty, and no indictment on anybody's education, to pick on this error.

by Anonymous :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 3:07pm

For what it's worth: "'champing' at the bit" goes back at least to Francis Bacon and to someone's translation of Aeschylus from a previous century (see link on name). Because the term is obscure, most underlettered people conflate it with the more familiar 'chomping'...

I guess if you merely want to convey the image, 'chomping' will do just fine. However, if you were intending to invoke a rich linguistic/literary tradition, 'champing' gets that across much better.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 3:08pm

"Irregardless" is not a word. "To chomp" is. Therein lies the difference.

by Basilicus (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 3:10pm


The Fox Network would still exist, but it might look slightly more akin to UPN or the WB, albeit with more risque shows.


Who actually uses 'irregardless'?

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 3:10pm

"To chomp" is actually two words....

by Joe (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 3:10pm

Re 16: Considering that pretty much everyone says "chomping at the bit", saying "champing" isn't going to invoke anything other than people looking at you funny.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 3:11pm

When a shift in a cliche alters the meaning beyond recognition, it should be criticized. For example, "toe the line" has a meaning (however obscure), while "tote the line" has no meaning whatsoever.

A change in spelling from "champ" to "chomp" doesn't change the symbolism of the cliche at all.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 3:13pm

note: People also use "tow the line," which has virtually no meaning, either.

by michael (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 3:14pm

technically, isn't "to chomp" two words?

yes, i realize i'm splitting hairs, but that certainly beats splitting infinitives (e.g. to boldly chomp).

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 3:18pm

Actually, linguistically, there's nothing wrong with split infinitives. The origin of the rule wasn't natural; it was a creation of the literary elite who pretty much unilaterally decided that since you couldn't actually split infinitives in latin (contendere), and since latin was obviously the best language ever, one should not split infinitives in English. It's stuck in academia, but as with most artificial rules, common language never really had the chance or inclination to fully integrate it.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 3:42pm


That basically sounds like the common

"we're scholars, and you're unwashed. Go back to your hovels"

Language only means what it is used to mean. If people commonly use a word to mean something, then thats what it means, whether or not it had some historically different meaning.

by Alex Carnevale :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 3:54pm

Apologies, no offense was intended.

I was actually trying to make fun of John Abraham. From now, I resolve to be clearer about that. Thanks for reading everybody.

Go Hokies!

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 3:56pm

#25: Not actually true. Language has two aspects: static and morphic. The largest morphic aspect is "common use," where spellings, pronunciations, and usage change rather rapidly. The problem with just using this as the language is that if it were, as little as 20 years and 300 miles would create a nearly-impenetrable language barrier. Think I'm exaggerating about the effects of linguistic isolation? Do some reasearch on China and "Chinese" as a language.

The static element is what keeps language coherent; in English, this is generally thought of as "formal" or "academic" English. That keeps words around, standarizes morphemes (words) and phonemes (sounds), and generally keeps a language coherent between groups and for future speakers.

So no, common usage is by no means the only important part of language.

by Marko (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 4:00pm

"Lions WR Roy Williams, after a victory TD celebration with his team down 10-0."

No, it was merely a first down, not a touchdown, which was why it was so ridiculous. He celebrated like it was a crucial play. He did the same thing later, when the score was 24-0. It's a good thing for him that the score means nothing to him.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 4:03pm


Do you think China is really a valid example at this point? China is that way because communication between regions is poor.

In this day and age, communication is much better in most nations. 300 miles isnt much in the US and Europe. I talk to people more than 300m away every single day. How often do you think a peasant in china does that?

Thats an issue of isolation. We dont have that in the modernized world any more.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 4:04pm

Fun times: a web page devoted to mathematical analysis of statistics and probabilities can also spark debates about the use of cliche and the history of language.

by Nate (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 4:05pm

'Irregardless' is a word. It means exactly the same thing 'regardless'.

From dictionary.com:

'Irregardless' is a word that many mistakenly believe to be correct usage in formal style, when in fact it is used chiefly in nonstandard speech or casual writing. Coined in the United States in the early 20th century, it has met with a blizzard of condemnation for being an improper yoking of 'irrespective' and 'regardless' and for the logical absurdity of combining the negative 'ir-' prefix and '-less' suffix in a single term. Although one might reasonably argue that it is no different from words with redundant affixes like 'debone' and 'unravel', it has been considered a blunder for decades and will probably continue to be so.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 4:12pm

I think we should encourage Roy Williams's celebrations. It's not often that a football player understands how DVOA is calculated...

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 4:12pm

Nate, did you read that definition? Any "word" used exists, but it can still be an error:

"‘Irregardless’ is a word that many mistakenly believe to be correct usage in formal style, when in fact it is used chiefly in nonstandard speech or casual writing."

"it has been considered a blunder for decades and will probably continue to be so."

Common usage can make any slang or error a "word," but Standard English and grammar rules still exist.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 4:21pm

BTW, while there is a definite difference between formal English (the language we'd like to see in published works we read, or hear from people paid to talk on radio and television) and non-standard, casual English, I believe almost all internet language should be considered non-standard and casual. We're all writing away too fast to worry about correcting errors; I wouldn't bother criticizing somebody's grammatical errors in a blog, email, or comment anymore.

by clem (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 4:22pm

Along the lines of the champ/chomp eggcorn (yes, it is a term used by some linguists, not a typo), (Lion) Roy Williams amusingly conflated two cliches after the Seattle game. He was trying to credit the Seattle defense for playing well by tipping his metaphorical hat, but what came out was "my hat goes out to them."

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 4:39pm

#27: The people in China speak different variants/descendants of an root language. Many have theorized that the language used to be much more uniform, but over time different regions developed their own dialects, taught standardized versions of their own dialects, to the point where they're mostly mutually unintelligible.

As for the "more communication" argument, it has a crunchy shell but is ultimately hollow. The reason we can communicate with each other so well is we have this static baseline that makes communication possible. Should the lower classes of China become suddenly mobile, the fact that they have the opportunity to communicate will not suddenly adjust their language so that they can communicate with each other.

English is somewhat unique in that it is a true amalgam, as opposed to a discrete language that simply borrows words and adopts them to their own syntax. Generally the latter holds true, and languages stay discrete after an initial split even with good interplay between the communities (classical chinese and tibetan). Eventually the communities either adapt (learn whatever language they need to communicate) or simply retain separate enclaves (some Korean populations in Japan), but their languages themselves rarely meld together.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 4:45pm

#34: How can we expect people to take us seriously if we cannot even take the time to review and correct our work, much less convey our ideas in a way that is clear and easily understood by those with the required toolset. If you can't change "an than u sed" to something more clear, why should I believe you have something to say? You obviously are not reaching out to me to give a clear indication of what you mean- you're using language exclusive to your group. You are not talking to me, so I don't care. If your writing is full of errors (not an occasional error... people make mistakes), you don't care about your idea enough to make sure it is conveyed clearly and that you are not misunderstood.

Style is just as important as substance; it conveys the writer's attitude, caution and understanding of his audience very well.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 4:53pm

37: Here's my basic standard.

If you're in any way paid for your use of language (either written or spoken), what you say and how you say it should be fair game to be criticized or even ridiculed. This means that we can make fun of whatever sportswriters and TV commentators we want for their use of language.

If you're using language for academic purposes, the way you use language should be formal, and if it is not, you are open to criticism and deduction. This allows academic discourse to be serious and respected.

In most other cases, I won't bother people for grammar errors. This includes spoken language and most internet writing.

HOWEVER, clearly a person's ability to be articulate and use formal English correctly and eloquently will affect how I evaluate a person's argument. If it's sloppy language, I may think less of the argument; if the style and form is good, I may respect it more. But I wouldn't go picking out errors or problems in style; I would be more interested in dealing with the ideas.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 5:03pm

Fnor, you're totally missing the point I was trying to make.

We dont communicate better because of a better baseline. We communicate better because we actually have a chance to communicate.

Isolating two populations creates drift, whether or not its language, or evolution. In most of rural china, 300 miles is an insurmountable distance, and you will never, at any point in your life, be given a chance to communicate with someone 300 miles away.

In the US, 300 miles away is a 30 minute flight. 300 miles is the 10 seconds it takes to dial 11 digits. 300 miles is a 5 hour drive.

The lack of contact with people in these rural countries is what creates the language drift. If you take two groups and seperate them, they'll differentiate over time. Theres no feedback pushing them back to the norm.

FOr example, I could make up a slang term. If I lived in china, in a rural area, if my family and friends started using it, it might become a part of the accepted vernacular. Its not going to do that a province over, because theyre never even going to hear the term.

In modern society, if I get my town using some slang term (like pwon), I may be able to get friends on the internet/phone/etc to use it. It'll either spread quickly, or it'll be crushed by that push back towards the accepted language.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 5:08pm

I think the bigger issue with Chinese is that the ideographic written language has no connection to the spoken language. In languages with an alphabet, the written language is tied pretty closely to the spoken language, which stabilizes the language. The ideograms of Chinese don't stabilize or standardize the language (though they do allow speakers of the different spoken tongues the chance to communicate through the written language).

I don't think the isolation is necessarily the primary issue.

Man, have we gotten away from football. Did everybody give up on this comment section except the language geeks?

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 5:09pm

I always figured "chomping at the bit" was a horse racing reference. What does it originally refer to?

by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 5:12pm

Wow, this is truly a surreal, but welcomed, conversation that has nothing to do with football. Here's my two cents:

Champ, not chomp.

Fnor's spot on regarding the evolution and application of language. It matters.

Irregardless is truly not a valid word, even thogh it may be used as such. If it supplants regardless in 100 years, I'll change my view, ala Rich's point in #25. But the transition from word to word or meaning to meaning has to be pretty comprehensive, and I don't think this fits the bill, as evidenced by our very discussion.

Also, favorite trivia: "unraveled" and "raveled" mean the same thing. I always wondered about a restaurant in NYC called "The Raveled Sleeve" and finally did some digging. Fun stuff.

Finally, Pacivist Viking, I never heard of "tote the line" (surely you jest), but what IS the original and proper form: "Toe the line" (as in line up, organize yourself, get your toes on the line, which is how it was delivered to me as a Naval Acad plebe 24 years ago), or "tow the line" as in let's all work together and do things right, (somewhat like a team of pack animals pulling together).

Meaning-wise, they're pretty similar, one leaning towards "organization" and one towards "effort," but both convey the same sense of "get your act together and get some work done," generally as a group or in conjunction with a group.

I could check wikipedia, but this is more fun.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 5:12pm

I'm just bummed there is no LaVar Arrington quote this week.

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 5:14pm

Great discussion guys- I'm finding this more interesting than most football threads. I don't have that much to add, just find it cool that FO readers have this collective depth of knowledge.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 5:15pm

#38: I think we're pretty much on the same boat, but I think I read more into the intent and quality of the author from his style than you do.

#39: You're ignoring completely how regional dialects work. I know I have trouble speaking with people who use a lot of slang that I'm unfamiliar with- I have real difficulties communicating with people from the deep south, for instance. Now, I can go onto the internet and speak with people from Lousiana. We could probably communicate well if we stuck with standard, non-regional English. Once colloquialisms (which are highly regional and generally cultural in nature) start entering the picture, despite the fact that we can gain the opportunity to communicate rather easily does not mean we actually will be able to communicate.

So why do all these artifacts survive? Because people speak with those near them far more than those far away from them, and everyone in the community uses them. Extra communication between dialects won't rip them out, because it would be nearly impossible to have it reach anywhere near the level of communication within their community.

Your assertion that these things are simply crushed or assimilated are simply not true, as evidenced by the fact that there is no standard slang, or for that matter even a standard accent (standard midwest was picked mostly for psychological reasons). Will American English fragment? No. But it's not because people from Georgia speak with people from New York more: it's that we all share a large body of work written in formal English (textbooks, newspapers, television news casts). Our standard keeps us all together.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 5:20pm

42: It's fun to google misstated cliches and see how many people use them and who they are: "tote the line" has 4,080 matches. "Tow the line came" later, I believe, and I won't give an interpretation of the meaning of "toe the line" because I've heard multiple explanation and don't rightly know who to believe.

As another example of language evolution, "their" has basically become an acceptable gender-neutral singular pronoun. It drives me crazy. English teachers are the last people on earth insisting that people use "his or her": "their" has a better chance of becoming standardized than "irregardless," but I'll rue the day it does and keep fighting the good fight to prevent its use as a singular form!

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 5:24pm

41: it does refer to horses (or donkeys or mules?) biting at the bit in their mouth. "Chomp" and "champ" are the same thing.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 5:27pm

#40: I understand your point, and it may be true, were Chinese orthography actually ideographic. It's not. The best description I've seen for it is morphosyllabic. I'd refer you to John DeFrancis's (and to a lesser extent J Marshal Unger's) fantastic work on the subject. It's a very, very common misconception, that even many experts on the language make.

The corallary of the ideographic myth is that Chinese from different regions can attain a sort of comparative literacy by communicating simply with sinographs. This isn't actually true. One problem is that different "regionalects" have developed significantly different syntax. Another is that a large number of sinographs have a phonemic element (sometimes the radical, often not), which serves as a clue for the reading of the character. In groups with incongruent phonemes, this causes trouble. Plus, sinograms often are assigned to different words in different regions (especially those who did not fully convert to the new, simplified orthography).

You are right, however, that the orthography does not help standardize the language. The only problem is that this is an effect, not a cause.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 5:28pm

#46: Amen. I want to take my copy (well, my wife's copy, actually) of the CMS and hit people over the head with it.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 5:29pm

Thanks Fnor--I guess my college textbook on language was stronger on Indo-European languages and somewhat outdated on Eastern tongues.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 5:32pm

45. Fnor, but there is a large amount of standardized slang that is becoming accepted.

I'm from the northeast. I do know a LOT of what was previously southern and midwestern slang. Why? Increased communication, via the internet and TV.

Does anyone not understand when I say something like "Thats wicked sweet!" No, they all understand. Why? Because its been put in enough movies, and they've seen it enough that its now commonly understood. That happens much faster, and much more efficiency in modern culture than it ever has before. To ignore what the increased communication is doing to our language is silly.

by L-Jam (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 5:35pm

Hey, while we're on semantics, can someone please explain to me why it's a good thing to "get untracked"?

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 5:35pm

#50: No worries. Like I said, it's extremely prevalent. I'm not sure I would know if I hadn't had heavy study into east asian languages and orthography.

#51: All right, we'll leave it at that. You can stick to your "internet brings everything together" argument, and I'll stick with my education and the collective experience and history of the study of linguistics.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 5:40pm

Fnor, study of history is impressive, but at no point in history has communication been as easy as it is now.

We're in uncharted territory.

If you dont think that TV/the Internet affects our language....

thats the problem with academics. They never come out of their libraries and look at whats going on in the real world.

by b-man (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 6:01pm

I like these from Ebenezer Ekuban of Denver when asked about last years punch in the jewels from Logan Mankins of the Pats:
"I won’t be able to run if I wear a cup," he said. "But I might wear a jockstrap to see if it can absorb some of the treatment."
"..Hey, it’s tough inside there. You don’t purposely play dirty, but things happen you don’t want to tell your mama about. That’s the nature of the game."

by T. Owens (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 6:05pm

"Who actually uses ‘irregardless’?"

I distinctly remember Jayson Stark starting one of his columns with that word. Can't remember if he had his stache or not though.

by T. Owens (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 6:06pm

"Language only means what it is used to mean. If people commonly use a word to mean something, then thats what it means, whether or not it had some historically different meaning."

Unless you end up confusing 50 percent of the readers/listeners in the process.

by T. Owens (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 6:14pm

There are good and bad language developments, too, in my opinion. Not all slang trends and phrase trends are created equally (hah!).

Throwing (blank) under the bus
Drinking the Kool-Aid
crap the bed

Easily deciphered, funny, add something to the language. (And yeah, I know they didn't actually drink Kool-Aid at Jonestown. It just works better that way.)

Impact, impacted, impactful
the defense can't get off the field
walk-off homer (or, good forbid, touchdown)

by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 6:19pm

pretty much everything Bill Maas says

(I'm going to take up the hobby of "trying to tie threads together." Discussion threads, that is.)

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 7:42pm

eggcorn sighting!

I'm glad to see I am not the only person who resists misusing a word simply because other people do. I will not use "impact" as a verb simply because some people can't be bothered to write or say "has an impact on." For example, I acknowledge that common usage has an impact on the English language, but I prefer to use established meanings.

I find that it is more useful to me to communicate in roughly the same fashion online and offline; while it does take me longer to say what I want to say, it also helps me to maintain my typing skills. :)

I think Fnor's #45 expresses my opinion best. I'll leave it at that.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 7:42pm

Re #46
I've gone back and forth on "their" as a singular noun. English already has a perfectly good third-person singular pronoun, but, alas and alack, people tend not to like it when you refer to them as "it"s.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 7:45pm

And I'd like to take the credit for getting this whole thread sidetracked. I tried to talk about football, way up there in #1, but used "while" when I meant "where." Doomed, doomed as surely my effort to talk about the AFC South in the ROBO-PUNTER thread. I must, somehow, find a way to carry on.

by Identity (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 8:25pm

zlionsfan #60,

What about an impacted wisdom tooth?

by Ryan H (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 8:34pm

Re: 27

So how did people manage to stay coherent for the millenia prior to Strunk and White?

There is absolutely no static content to language, other than maybe the recursive logic that goes into sentence creation. Regardless, whatever is static about it wouldn't need any sort of academy to make sure it stayed that way.

by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 8:47pm


I'm all in favor of "their"- this language has grown to really need a gender-neutral third-person pronoun without the inanimate, objectifying connotations of "it" (which is so much stronger since objects don't have genders in our languages).

I say it's not any more confusing or incorrect than our use of "you" and the complete lack of singular/plural distinction in the second person. That particular conundrum has two possible solutions: you could go the Quaker route and use "thee" and "thou" for the second-person singular. Otherwise, it's "y'all" time.

by Ryan H (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 8:51pm

don't for "yinz". go stillers.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 12:17am

Interesting "quote". So many pundits are decrying the Panthers chances pointing out only 11 teams in past 5 years or whatever that start 0-2 make the playoffs.

Well over the time horizon I saw that was 18% of teams...and with 11 0-2 teams this year one would expect two of them to make playoffs...anyone really expect Carolina to not be one of those two teams?

by jbindc35 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 1:39am


In the millenia preceding this one, language rules were passed on much as they are now - through formal education. They may not have had Strunk & White, but practitioners of written language certainly had examples of good language from classical literature. Keep in mind that classical Latin authors like Cicero and Virgil were an indispensible part of western education for centuries, pretty much up until the mid 20th century. I believe there is evidence for scriptoria and associated schools going back several millenia, into early Egyptian and Mesopotamian societies.


It is interesting that when it came to a choice between thee/thou and you for second-person singular, English speakers abandoned the informal "thee" and adopted the formal "you."

by emcee fleshy (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 2:44am

If it communicates the idea and isn't distracting then it's correct.

So Their!

by emcee fleshy (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 2:45am

Roy Williams couldn't possibly celebrate scoring a touchdown with his team losing 10-0.

It would be at least 10-6.

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 9:06am

67 - Depends when they get The Real MVP (TM) back.

70 - He was celebrating a first down, not a touchdown.

Fnor et al. on "their" (s) - I'm absolutely with ChrisFromNJ on this one: we need a single monosyllabic possessive to express "his or her", because nature abhors unnecessary syllables. "Their" does not seem to me to create any confusion when used in this way. The alternative would be the creation of an entirely new word. His OR Her - "horh" is acronymically satisfying but has unfortunate homophones.

What interests me is the use, less common but still by no means infrequent, of "they", "them", "their" etc. in respect of persons whose gender is known but whose identity is not.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 9:30am

I have never heard anyone say "chomping at the bit." It's always "champing at the bit."

by John (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 10:19am

Heck, I've never heard anyone use the word "champ" other than as a shortening of champion. A quick look at m-w.com reveals champ and chomp have the same definition, and use the phrase champing/chomping at the bit in both.

by DGL (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 10:25am

#71: I find the usage note in the 2nd College Edition of the American Heritage Dictionary (pp. 470-471) to be a gem: When referring back to a group consisting of both men and women, strict grammarians have insisted that the masculine singular him or his be used as a "neutral" form; one is thus required to say Every one of the actors and actresses has learned his part. Since the last century, however, feminists and their allies have objected to this presumption. The writer who finds the singular he and his distateful in these cases has the choice of flying in the face of traditional grammar and using they and their or of using the somewhat clumsier variants his and her (or her and his); attempts to introduce new pronouns like s/he appear unlikely to win general acceptance. The entire matter is properly outside the scope of grammar. In the end, as Fowler put it, "everyone must decide for himself (or for himself and herself, or for themselves)."

by Fnor (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 12:11pm

To paraphrase the Chicago Manual of Style, the male personal pronoun is generic, but is disfavored compared to crafting sentences which do not need a generic pronoun.

To use that example: All of the actors and actresses have learned their [respective] parts.

It's not a problem if you take time to run with it.

#71: "Hohr?" Holy crap, that's hillarious. :D

by Scot K (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 12:41pm

Here's another botched one. Lots of announcers are saying "that's a tough road to hoe," when it should be a tough row to hoe." You don't hoe a road, you hoe a row (in a field).

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 1:33pm

60: I would welcome adding "impact" as a verb to replace "has an impact on." It's much less wordy, and in generally, eliminating wordiness contributes to clarity.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 1:36pm

"in generally" also contributes to clarity, I guess. ;)

My all-time favorite botched cliche remains "in the shadow of their own end zone." How does a flat piece of earth cast a shadow that people can be in?

by Ilanin (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 2:25pm

76 - but you have to admit, trying to hoe a road would be pretty darned tough.

by John (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 2:43pm

Re: 78 I think maybe the phrase started out as (although I don't know) "in the shadow of their own goal post" which would be especially pertinet when the goal posts were in the front of the end-zone, not the back.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 3:32pm

Re: #52

That one's always puzzled me as well. I've assumed it's a corruption of "to get on track" (as in "to get back on track").

by T. Owens (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 6:42pm

"60: I would welcome adding “impact� as a verb to replace “has an impact on.� It’s much less wordy, and in generally, eliminating wordiness contributes to clarity."

Argh! There's already a word for that. It's called "affect."

by Peter (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 9:56pm

OK, you guys made me curious, because I had always considered "impact" as a verb. I'm right, it is... Merriam-Webster includes it, Cambridge includes it (with a note of "Mainly US") and American Heritage/Bartleby also includes it, though with a handy note, after mentioning that many obsessive grammar people disapprove: Impact has been used as a verb since 1601, when it meant “to fix or pack in,� and its modern, figurative use dates from 1935.