“Stand for (election)”

Top NOOBs scout Nancy Friedman alerted me back in September to U.S. news host Rachel Maddow’s use of a certain Britishism:

… standing for re-election as president in 1972, Richard Nixon was due to make history. He was going to match FDR`s record for being on the national ticket for his party in five different elections. FDR had stood for vice president once. Of course, he stood for president four times…

The Britishism is “stand”–the exact Americans equivalent is “run.” I mentally filed away the example and planned to eventually write a post on it. I expected that I would find that it was a true one-off from the mouth of Maddow, who studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and is quite fond of British expressions.

Well, it’s at least a two-off, as Nancy has detected another use, in last Sunday’s New York Times magazine: “… Jeff Flake, in a speech announcing he would not be standing for re-election…”

The author of the article, Sasha Chapin, is Canadian. Following a Twitter discussion, ace Anglo-American linguist Lynne Murphy kindly searched a corpus of Canadian English. She found three hits for “run for election” and six for “stand for election.”

Still, even if it was normal for Chapin, the usage got by the Times copy editors. Oh, I forgot, the Times has eliminated the position of copy editor.

Anyway, such is the press’s need for elegant variation, I expect to see “stand for election” pop up again.


17 thoughts on ““Stand for (election)”

  1. Firstly, and from the NYT, I would quote the following: ‘“We are in fact eliminating a free standing copy desk,” they wrote. “We are not, as we have said repeatedly, eliminating copy editing.”’

    Secondly, I continue to feel that Yagoda all-too often shows a disdain in his comments. This snarky “Oh, I forgot, the Times has eliminated the position of copy editor.” is payable. Given that we all (should) understand that the language is a “living” one, I imagine a (still active and present) copy editor would most certainly allow this usage since the UK and US are more and more becoming intertwined in all media. Just this morning I lost count of the number of British influences or commentators on MSNBC. One can say, also, the reverse is true in the UK media: it always has been.

    I would posit the former is a good thing but question the latter.

    1. I know very well what the Times has done. As I said, they have eliminated the position of copy editor (aka subeditor). Now, there are general editors who handle both the big picture and the fine points, to which copy editors were previously devoted.

    2. I read your first sentence three times before I realized you weren’t talking about a standing desk, i.e., a desk at which one stands rather than sits.

      1. I don’t think anyone who has been in an actual office (not a Microsoft one) would recognise that “place where jobholder X nominally sits” use of “desk” anymore, it is only used for the meaning of “table for a person to work at”.

  2. The Prime Minister might also “go to the country”, not really something that would make sense stateside…

  3. Did CNN also rid themselves of copy editors? Hmmm.

    Surely, this whole discussion borders on speculation since there’s no data provided to back up Yagoda’s ruffled feathers. I suppose a Google n-gram’d shed some light but until then, “much ado about nothing” springs to mind.

    1. “Ruffled feathers?” Maybe we need to start a blog about people who mis-read this as a peeving blog. Note that the NAME of this blog includes a Britishism. The whole point of this blog is “much ado about nothing,” or, perhaps, “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Get into the spirit and enjoy it.

  4. Still on elections but slightly off the topic in hand, something I hear a lot on the BBC about elections is “run-off” . This is a final round of voting to decide which of two remaining candidates wins. Is it American?

  5. Thanks Ben. I’ve always wondered why the BBC was using what I thought of as obscure jargon instead of plain English.

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