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Boths a crowd



"In Pennsylvania, outside Pittsburgh, Republicans defeated Democrat Mark Critz in what was one of the year's most expensive races, with both sides spending a combined $13.7 million."

"Tux and Xedo are a brother/sister pair that were bottle-raised from 5 days old. Both are nearly identical with black and white tuxedo markings and deep amber eyes."

Avoid redundancy and confusion by not overusing both, whether dealing with candidates or kittens. In the first example, make it "... with the two sides spending a combined $13.7 million"; in the second, substitute "They" for "Both".

The first is an example of journalistic negligence too, I suspect. If one side spent considerably more than the other, as probably happened in this case, the reporter should have proceeded to give the amount for each. To do otherwise implies that the two sides are equally culpable. Reporters do that a lot, trying to appear objective, but often the attempt only misleads their readers. Opposing sides are not always equally at fault. They weren't at Pearl Harbor. The Japanese might say that the opposing sides weren't equally at fault for what happened at Hiroshima either.


"McConnell took the studs when it was suggested that he should work with the president." I saw a mention of "took the studs" by The Word Detective the other day, and it took me back. My father used that expression, but I haven't heard it in years. The Dictionary of American Regional English says that "studs" in this case is "a fit of stubborn opposition, balkiness," usually appearing in the phrase "take [or took] the studs." DARE says the expression is found mainly in the South, and gives this example:

"We was doin' all right till ol' Deacon Jones took the studs, but it ain't no more use talking no more tonight." DARE does not explain the origin.


Stanley Johnson saw a newspaper column in which "something was described, a new trend of some kind, perhaps, as 'hovering' into view. That is of course wrong. The writer meant something was approaching, probably gradually. Things that hover are already where they are going. It occurs to me that the writer had some unconscious recollection of the somewhat nautical phrase 'hove into view,' 'hove' being the past tense. I don't remember ever encountering the present tense. 'Heave into view' sounds like something that should be confined to the bathroom." Some years ago, I heard a lady just back from vacation talk about riding on a Hoovercraft. Only hours later did I realize what she meant. 

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