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Words Feb. 16

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X-rated:

“Throw in a little trickery featuring MVP Hines Ward, a bunch of help from the Seattle Seahawks and a huge boost from the Terrible Towels, and the Steelers won Super Bowl XL 21-10 on Monday.”

It’s a small thing but annoying that the media acquiesce in the pretentiousness of using Roman numerals for a game played between men who don’t know a Roman from a numeral, most of them. America is the only place that cares about American football, and Americans say “40,” not “XL.” Any sportswriter who uses Roman numerals for the name of this contest should be required to use them all the way through his story — “and the Steelers won Super Bowl XL XXI-X on Sunday. The key play occurred in Quarter III, when the Steelers gambled on Down IV and completed a VI-yard pass, resulting in Down I.”

The ostentation of Roman numerals encourages coaches and players to over-extend themselves too. Here is the winning coach speaking immediately after the Super Bowl: “History was not going to determine our fate. Our effort today decided this game, and that’s what’s great. It’s surreal.”

That the game was decided by effort is “having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal; fantastic”? Isn’t effort supposed to decide games? Most people who use surreal use it to mean simply “weird, strange,” but even that doesn’t square with the coach’s usage.

Coaches using words like surreal — that’s surreal.

Elsewhere in sports, the rest of the media seem to be resisting NBC’s effort to put the Winter Olympics in “Torino.” They’re calling the Italian city by the name that English-speakers use — Turin. I’m not sure why NBC is insisting on the Italian name, but it’s certainly not custom. Does anybody remember the Roma Olympics or the Munchen Olympics?



UA not keeping up with the Joneses:

A newsletter from the University of Arkansas reported on a ceremony honoring a couple named Hodges. “Dean O’Myte noted that the reading room is an appropriately named space for the Hodges … The Hodges were then presented with an etched glass replica …” The plural of Hodges is Hodgeses.


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