The impact of the hockey playoffs on English

In honor of the Montreal Canadiens advancing to the next round of the Stanley Cup playoffs I thought I'd post something hockey related.

Since I don't get RDS over here, I watched last night's game from a Boston-affiliated channel and during the broadcast I sometimes couldn't help snickering at some of their verbal gaffes.

Most notably when one of the commentators reacted to the loud chants coming from the crowd and said that Montreal has "prolific" fans.

Did he mean that Montreal fans are abundant or that we're highly productive? You know, like prolific writers. I'm pretty sure he meant we were a boisterous bunch but nonetheless it didn't make much sense.

Anyway, Mark Abley examines the slow disintegration of the English language that takes place during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

I wouldn't take this piece too seriously but it's still pretty amusing.

From The Gazette:

For those of us who love language as well as hockey, the Stanley Cup playoffs bring a tricky question: Can we overlook the rampant abuse of words that goes on every spring?

I'm not talking about how foreign-born players mangle English (or, occasionally, French). Alex Kovalev's English is far better than my Russian. I'm talking about broadcasters who are paid serious amounts of money, not just for their knowledge of the sport, but for their ability to talk.

It's notable how many of the stock phrases you hear during hockey games involve a compound made up of two nouns shoved together: "We need a rule change." "It's a judgment call." "Their game plan is to improve the work ethic."

One of McGuire's favourite phrases is "big time," which he deploys as both an adverb and an adjective. He's quoted on the TSN website as declaring: "Alexei Cherepanov is a big-time home run for the Rangers." A more ungainly mixed metaphor could hardly be imagined.

I don't mean to suggest that hockey analysts (there's another odd compound) should sound like poets, or even like newscasters. I'm willing to forgive them much, for they work under pressure and have to make up eloquent sentences on the fly. That's the reason why their sentences often speak volumes about how language has been evolving lately.

More here.

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